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Syrian Arab Airlines provoked a curious mixture of applause and raised eyebrows at the annual meeting of the Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO) in Cairo in November, when chief executive, Talal Abdulkarim, urged the industry group to hold its next get-together in Damascus.
The Syrian capital would not have been the first venue to spring to mind when AACO began making plans for its 2019 meeting. In all honesty, it was probably dead last.
Syria has been torn apart by eight years of brutal civil war that began with an Arab Spring uprising but quickly morphed into a multi-faceted battle between regional governments, world powers and a spectrum of rebel groups – most notorious among them the fanatical Islamists of Daesh, who at one point controlled roughly half the country...