The Lebanese city of Zahle sits high in the Bekaa valley, on the ancient highway that connects Damascus to Beirut and the world beyond.
To reach it from the coast by road in December you climb sharply through a series of hairpin bends - every few minutes you catch a glimpse of the steep highland scenery as a gap appears in the raw, foggy air.
Zahle - a Christian city - has known dark times.
It became a dangerous frontline as the armed forces of Syria intervened in Lebanon's long, complex and bitter civil war in the 1980s.
In a very similar conflict in the 1860s it was torched by besieging Druze and Turkish fighters after its Christian defenders were defeated. Civilians were massacred in the bloody aftermath.
Return and rebuild
These days, Zahle is a place of safety.
Christian families fleeing the violence and chaos of Syria's civil war just a few kilometres further down that
In: Regional News, Politics, Syria, Religion, History
Tags: christianity, islam, middle east, syria, conflict, demographics, persecution, ethnic, cleansing, assad, fsa
Location: Syria (load item map)
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