People in rebel-held areas have spent nearly a decade under siege and bombardment by the Syrian government and its Russian allies. In 2017, Atareb, about 10 miles from the Turkish border, was hit by a series of airstrikes that killed dozens, including several children.

Almost six years later, Alhamdo couldn’t help but remember the horrors the town lived through in the past.

“Five years ago, this area witnessed a very heavy attack by Syrian regime fighter jets,” Alhamdo said of the three airstrikes that hit the market in Atareb, west of Aleppo, in November 2017.

At least 84 people were killed in that attack, including five children, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors Syria’s civil war through a network of sources on the ground.

A United Nations investigation concluded that the attacks were carried out by the Russian air force. Moscow denies attacking civilians in Syria.

“Those houses that were built at that time now have [fallen] to the ground,» added Alhamdo.

Videos showed houses, mosques and shops reduced to rubble and rusty metal wires sticking out of the ground. A single bulldozer was working to clear the rubble alongside a small group of people in the city’s main market.

«What can a vehicle, a few people working with their own hands, [do] for those under the rubble?» Alhamdo said. «Unfortunately they can’t do anything.»

The quake struck a part of northwestern Syria that is divided between government-controlled territory and the country’s last remaining rebel-held enclave, likely complicating efforts to deliver aid.

Some 4.5 million people crowd the area, many of whom live in extreme poverty and have been displaced from other parts of the country by the war.