Syrian refugees tents are seen in the Bekaa town of Deir al-Ahmar, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014. (The Daily Star/Nidal Solh)
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Abu Ahmad, a Syrian refugee with a toothless smile, sucked on a cigarette at the edge of the crude tented settlement he now calls home.Abu Ahmad and approximately 400 other refugees fled Raqqa after ISIS took over the town and implemented their strict interpretation of Islamic law. Now spread across fifteen camps on the outskirts of Deir al-Ahmar in North Bekaa, the refugees said that while the butchery of ISIS is well behind them, they have a new, even less discriminate foe in Lebanon: the elements. While ill-prepared for the cold, the refugees agreed that even the harshest winter in Lebanon is preferable to ISIS rule in Raqqa.Ali, a wiry young man who was acting as a camp leader, said he was arrested by ISIS patrols after he was caught walking around during prayer time.Taher, like many refugees in the camp, left his wife and some of his children behind in Raqqa.Ultimately, most refugees say dire economic circumstances in Raqqa, rather than ISIS brutality, forced them to leave the town.The prospect of ISIS crossing the border into Lebanon also worries some of the refugees who have been following the news in Arsal closely.
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