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Syrian conflict exacts heavy toll on women

IDLIB PROVINCE, Northwest Syria — A group of young women sits huddled around a diesel heater sipping tea in a stone cottage in the village of Seyjar. Outside, their children use stick guns to play their favorite game of rebel fighters.

Just like mothers anywhere, they chat about their families and cooking — until a series of distant thuds stops the conversation: the sound of explosions. The mood suddenly tense, some whisper under their breath. “God is greatest” and “God protect us.” Others resume their discussion without a flinch.

An older woman sits in the corner, tears slowly rolling down her cheeks. Although everyone here has reasons to cry, only she succumbs today.

Another woman explains that women are suffering most from Syria’s war.

“Our husbands are always gone. We must deal with everything alone,” says Muna Basham, a 30-year-old primary school teacher and mother of four. “With no electricity, our work at home has become so hard. We must wash by hand and cook by fire. We must take care of children who have become obsessed by war. We’re not used to these things.”

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