In this Thursday, June 5, 2014 photo, Zeinat Akhras and her brother Ayman walk to from home to a church in Homs, Syria. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)
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Zeinat Akhras, a 65-year-old pharmacist, still bears the effects of nearly two years trapped in her home, surrounded by rebel fighters during the government's siege on the ancient quarters of the city of Homs. She's still a wispy 38 kilograms, even after gaining 4 kilograms since the blockade ended in early May with the fall of the rebels in the city.Akhras and her two brothers were among the few civilians who stayed until the end, in their multi-story family home in the Al-Maljaa quarter, decorated like many of the area's homes in an Arab medieval style of black-and-white geometric facades.They stayed because they feared rebels would seize the building – the fate of other abandoned homes – or would loot the family pharmacy or clothing shop.As the blockade deepened, Akhras rarely left the building – perhaps six times during the 700 days, she estimated.As the siege dragged on, rebel fighters showed up repeatedly demanding food and fuel, Akhras said. They usually came in groups, ordering Akhras to sit in the living room as they raided the kitchen and the upstairs apartments where food was kept. The siblings were left with only cracked wheat, which ran out by January.Still, she said her family was not harassed by the Sunni rebels for being Christian – it appeared to be because her house was the one with food.
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