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Residents of Bir Said village sit inside a home, after their return to the village when Syrian Democratic Forces took control of the area from Islamic State militants in northern Raqqa province, Syria February 7, 2017. REUTERS/Rodi Said

(reuters_tickers)

GENEVA (Reuters) - Nearly half a million Syrians have returned to their homes so far this year, including 440,000 internally displaced people and more than 31,000 returning from neighbouring countries, the United Nations refugee agency said on Friday..

Most returned to Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Damascus, it said, on the view that security had improved in parts of the country.

"This is a significant trend and a significant number," UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic told a Geneva news briefing.

"Most of these people are returning to check on properties, to find out about family members... They have their own perceptions about the security situation, real or perceived improvements in areas they returning to."

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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