ZABADANI, Syria — The city of Zabadani, 45 kilometers (28 miles) west of Damascus, is still the scene of shelling by regime forces and clashes between these forces and rebels. Ten security and military checkpoints separate Damascus from rebel-held Zabadani, which was an important tourist destination before Syria’s civil war erupted. The city's continued clashes have had a considerable impact on the children who live there, prompting a group of Zabadani women to form a civil society group called Damma, which is Arabic for hug. In March, the women established a center to provide psychological support to more than 50 boys and girls from the region.
Damma's center is situated in a relatively quiet area in a southeastern suburb of Zabadani, near a Syrian army checkpoint. The area is packed with residential buildings and markets that have deterred the regime from targeting the area with explosive barrels. However, the silence is often interrupted by the sounds of barrel bombs being dropped over neighboring areas.