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How sports became means of defiance in Syria's besieged al-Waer

Al-Waer district, one of the last rebel-held areas of Homs, has suffered under a regime siege for years, pushing its residents to demonstrate their determination to endure.
Children play soccer at a playground in the northwestern Homs district of Al Waer January 17, 2015. U.N. aid workers have started delivering food to tens of thousands of people trapped in a besieged district of Homs city in Syria following negotiations with warring parties, officials said on Friday.  . REUTERS/Stringer (SYRIA - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTR4LTIK
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The Assi River and orchards surrounding the river separate al-Waer district, a northwestern suburb of Homs, from the city. Despite its proximity to strategic sites such as the military academy, the military hospital and Homs’ refinery, the district was considered a paradise and a summer destination.

But when the Syrian revolution began in 2011, the repression and brutality of the Syrian regime forced many residents from other Homs neighborhoods to flee to al-Waer, at one point bringing together nearly 300,000 displaced people, in addition to the district's 50,000 original residents. Al-Waer became the last opposition-held area of the city.

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