this is "nightline." >> tonight, we're inside aleppo for a rare look at the demolished city. >> we're driving through block after block of utter destruction. >> what had been a dangerous rebel stronghold in syria and the millions displaced by conflict. one family's return. >> born in 2012. he's only ever known war. >> can they ever reclaim the life they left behind? plus river of time. country queen naomi judd opening up about her life-threatening struggle with severe depression. overcoming a dark family secret. >> nobody was there for me. >> checking into a psychiatric ward. >> completely out of control. >> and her relationship with her daughter winona. >> i love her, but there are just times we need a break from
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good evening and thank you for joining us. i'm rebecca jarvis. tonight we take you inside war-torn aleppo, syria, for a rare glimpse at a place where violence and chaos has been the norm for years. competing armed forces have the city under constant siege and caught in the middle of it are families who only want to live in peace. here's abc's alex marquardt. >> reporter: aleppo. syria's biggest city and commercial center has become the symbol of the country's war. epitomizing the suffering of a people and setting up the pivotal battle that could very well decide the outcome of this war. divided in two, government forces in the west, the rebels in the east, the sides have waged a savage fight for control. once home to nearly 3 million people, this ancient city today is a shell of its former self. then in mid-november, president basharal al assad's forces launched an all-out assault hoping to retake the city once
and for all. >> we're driving through block after block uh utter destruction. these are what the government calls the liberated areas. the areas that they've retaken with their forces. we're heading to one that's incredibly symbolic, hanano. the first district that the rebels took four years ago. there's something eerie about hanano. despite the sounds of war, there's an unsettling silence. in many places, a virtual ghost town. but some families are now daring to return. >> this is the main gathering area for people who live in this part of town. here they can come and get food and warm drinks from aid agencies. they also come here to register, to let the local authorities know that they're going home. here we meet ahmed mardinly, bringing his sons to see their home for the first time in four years. >> how eager are they to get home?
>> reporter: ahmad is a government worker who fled the neighborhood with his family when the rebels took control. 4-year-old majed was just months old. >> he was born in 2012, so he has only ever known war. he's never lived here. we walk five bombed-out blocks to their building. and up the stairs to their front door. >> you see here they built a brick wall. in front of the door to protect it while they were away these past four years. beyond this door they hope to find the remainders of their old life. as the arab spring swept through the middle east in 2011, syrians began protesting their government. assad tightened his grip on the country. security forces brutally cracking down on protesters. by then, syria was in the throes of a civil war. from there, the country descended into chaos.
rebels and pro-government forces fighting a civil war were soon backed by major foreign powers. iran, russia, u.s., saudi arabia, among others, turning it into an international proxy war. and at the heart of the conflict, aleppo. some of the fiercest street fighting of the war has taken place here. extraordinary amounts of blood spilled as the front lines moved only inches. the city's streets and buildings, including some of the most historic in the world, bearing the scars of this brutal fight. these images from 2013. filmed by residents of the war-torn city. caught in the crossfire, using cameras provided by abc news. scenes like this unfolding nearly every day. since then, the conflict has only worsened. over 450,000 killed. 11 million syrians, more than half the population, have fled their homes, creating one of the worst refugee crises in modern
history. "nightline" tracking some of those difficult journeys. risking all they have left in order to reach europe across land and even trusting smugglers in rickety, overcrowded boats to cross the mediterranean sea in hopes of a better life. meanwhile, syria falling into further destruction with the birth of isis. a radical and brutal muslim terror group that declared itself an islamic state or caliphate working to tear down anyone or anything that counters their extremist ideology. even destroying treasured antiquities from ancient civilizations. and then the frantic effort in syria to save what's left. >> because damascus is the most secure city in the country, all the artifacts that are at risk are brought here to the national museum. so we're on our way to meet the team whose job it is to go out, rescue those treasures. these young archaeologists working to save hundreds of
thousands of precious artifacts. >> how valuable are these pieces in syrian archaeology? they're priceless? >> yes. >> this is from 3000 b.c. this is a hive of activity, methodical but moving very fast, like a production line. so much destroyed. so much in ruins. today's picture of aleppo embodying a people who have suffered so greatly. it's here we meet samir alibi, who fled two years ago. he's returned to find his home like this. doors and windows blown off. the tv and ac stolen off the walls. how does it make you feel to come back in here and see your home like this? >> i am very happy, but i had not expected it just destroyed. >> reporter: out on the street, constant reminders of the war still raging nearby. a bittersweet mix of homecoming and despair.
>> yesterday i sleep here. >> for the first time? >> for the first time. >> does it feel good to be home? it feels good to be at home? >> yes, yes, yes. it this is my house, my -- my memory. >> reporter: for the family there's life at the top of the staircase. the wall their father built to protect their home did what it was designed to do. keeping many of their precious belongings intact. the boys overjoyed to rediscover lost treasures. >> majed! >> reporter: a transformer. a tweety bird. >> majed! >> reporter: in this small corner of aleppo, a fragile and hard-won sense of normalcy.
it seems like you prepared quite well for the day you would come back. you knew you would come home one day? >> reporter: but those happy moments are rare around here. this large group of people was chasing this empty bus. we've spoken to several, and essentially they came back here, they saw the conditions their destroyed homes were in, decided there was nothing here for them, are now taking this bus back out of this neighborhood yet again. and elsewhere in eastern aleppo tonight, tens of thousands, maybe more, still caught in the middle of this fighting as fierce as ever. for "nightline," i'm alex marquardt in aleppo, syria. >> as fierce as ever. our thanks to alex for that report. next, country star naomi judd opening up about a difficult past and overcoming life-threatening, severe depression. ♪ send my love >> send my love to the 2017
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all seems beautiful to me. on the surface, naomi judd seems the picture of perfection. a glamorous beauty living her dream life as a celebrated musician touring the country with her daughter winona. on the inside, there was pain. and the persistent haunting of a difficult past. here's abc's robin roberts. >> i have to say something right off the bat. because i know people will realize i don't look like i usually look.
my hands shake real bad. my face -- i feel like a balloon. my face is all swollen. because of the medication. that i'm on. i really haven't been eating ice cream and candy. i really haven't. ♪ lovers really >> reporter: to the outside world 98 moment i don't judd should have been living the sweet life. she and daughter wynonna judd are country music royalty with grammy-winning hits like "mama he's crazy." ♪ mama he's crazy >> reporter: and "grandpa tell me about the good old days." ♪ whoa grandpa tell me about the good old days ♪ >> reporter: out of the public eye, this force of nature and mother of two has privately battled severe treatment-resistant depression and anxiety. >> i know this is awful, but -- i think about if i jumped off the bridge, i know the park ranger george heron is going to find me. >> reporter: it was a daily
struggle the singer came alarmingly close to losing. >> you talk about different instances, the bridge, the gun. you really were at that point. >> uh-huh. >> you thought that was the only answer? >> it's not, it's not. i'm still here and i'm sogladi didn't. >> reporter: deep depression led to psychiatric wards. a heavy regimen of medication. even electro convulsive therapy, formerly known as electroshock. she shares the excruciating details in her new book "river of time." why do you share this now? >> i want someone to be able to see that they can survive. it's not just to help the people, the 40 million, that have depression. it's so the people around them can understand, this is a disease. >> what do you feel the reaction will be from people that will say, how could this have happened to her? she's mama judd. she was always so happy. >> when people meet me, they
think, because they see me in rhinestones, with glitter in my hair, that really is who i am. i'm sort of a fantasy because i want to provide that for them. but then i come home. and not leave the house for three weeks. not get out of my pajamas. not practice normal hygiene. it was really bad. >> reporter: naomi's internal spiral began in 2011 during the judds' encore tour. documented in their reality show "the judds" on the oprah winfrey network. >> by understanding and being able to forgive nana or my great grandmother -- >> reporter: the experience elicited painful memories for wynonna and naomi. >> i feel so close to her now. closest i've ever felt. >> reporter: who has a teenage mom at 18 raised wynonna in hand to mouth poverty. >> from the day i knew she existed, it was the two of us against the world. and then through the decades, we kind of grew up together because it was really just the two of
us. and i'm always telling her, if i'd known better i would have done better. >> reporter: she says these newly surfaced realities of their past rocked their relationship to its core. >> we both walked on eggshells. it was very uncomfortable. and we both were just absolutely raw. even when we were on stage singing, we'd look in each other's eyes and singing a judds song, there was still that i was afraid of her, she was afraid of me. i love her, but there are just times we need a break from each other. >> are you still on a break? >> yes. we're still a little estranged from each other. and that happens with mothers, daughters. >> reporter: judd's depression worsened, alarming her husband, larry strickland, and daughter, actress ashley judd. >> i wouldn't get off the couch. larry -- i think it was after midnight -- called 911. because my blood pressure was so low. he couldn't tell if i was conscious or not because i would go into such a deep sleep.
and then larry called ashley. who lives right over this hill. and ashley came down in her nightgown and they took me to vanderbilt psych unit. and i think that's -- where it really hit me. i'm completely out of control. and me? hiving to go to the psych unit? >> but it brought back all these stories that we didn't know about. >> dark stuff. and they said, you have got to go to therapy. you've got to go to talk therapy. >> reporter: as part of her treatment, she had to face her childhood and confront a dark family secret. naomi says she was molested by her great uncle when she was 3 1/2 years old. >> i was a cute kid. i smiled and laughed, very obedient. there's a photo in the book where typically opposing. hand on hip, gripping for the camera. and then grandmommy judd made me
stand next to uncle charlie and my personality is completely changed. it's interesting where i'm holding my hands. right here. and i look like i'm disgusted and terrified. >> when these things would happen to you and you'd go running to an adult, you were so hopeful they would see the fright in you and ask you. but they were not equipped. >> nobody was there for me. in a way, i had to parent myself. and realize that i got a raw deal, okay. now i'm a big girl, put on your big girl pants and deal with it. and i started in therapy. i would walk up to ashley's house, which as mile that way. i would holler at her from her front step. she was home, she'd come out and give me a hug. >> reporter: one of many small but meaningful steps toward naomi's recovery. >> ashley and i are so stinking much alike. we have the same mannerisms. we read a whole lot. we both love new places.
>> reporter: and another critical part of her recovery is naomi's husband of 27 years, larry. what advice do you have for someone who has a loved one with depression? >> get ready to walk that path with them. because they're going to need you every minute. >> in sickness and in health? >> yeah, exactly. >> as for i wouwynonna? what do you think they'll think? >> i think she'll say, good for you, mom, for finally being willing to talk about the bad stuff. >> reporter: taking each day as it comes, naomi is seeing the brighter side of life again. >> my everyday life is not only manageable, it's even enjoyable once more. i laugh a lot. i've told my story and you can tell yours. you're not alone. i'm still here. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm robin roberts in leapers fork, tennessee. next --
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finally tonight, when superstars collide. the grammy nominations are here. ♪ i got hot sauce in my bag swag ♪ >> reporter: this year's gramny nominees getting into formation. beyonce leading the pack with nine. ♪ in formation >> reporter: following close behind, rihanna, drake, kanye west, each up for eight. it seems the recording academy has no problem with chance the rapper this year. ♪ >> reporter: awarding him seven nominations. one for best new artist. and say hello to the artist facing off for one of grammy's top prizes. ♪ hello outside >> reporter: adele's "25" up against beyonce's "lemonade," georgia justin bieber's
"purpose," drake's "views." a surprising up and comer in the mix, sturgill simpson. ♪ rihanna putting in work for record of the year. ♪ work work work >> reporter: mike posner's comeback hit "i took a pill" nominated for song of the year. ♪ i'm a real big baller cause i made a million dollars ♪ >> reporter: a lot of celebrating ahead. thank you for watching abc news. as always we're online at abcnews.com and our "nightline" facebook page. good night, america.