The Daraya library had, much like those who were trying to conceal it, survived years of barrel bombing.
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Piling mounds of dirt over the windows and entrance of an inconspicuous-looking basement in downtown Daraya, in late August a group of youths hurried to hide any trace of life before being evacuated from their hometown by Syrian regime forces.Despite the Daraya youths' best efforts to hide the basement and its reams of bookshelves from government troops, images began to circulate online earlier this month showing regime forces plundering the library, causing heartbreak to all those who dreamed of returning to their former sanctuary.Between the war reaching the city in 2012 and the library's founding in 2013, bombs had already incinerated many of Daraya's libraries and collections.Ahmad says the library helped fill the free time of Daraya's youth, especially during the lulls in airstrikes and battles.Despite the bleak conditions Daraya was subjected to, its residents still found time to use the library, with youths, women, children and even fighters losing themselves in the thousands of volumes that had been collected.The regime allowed those leaving Daraya to take only one bag with them, enough for their identity papers, some clothes and little else.But some still managed to take volumes from the library with them, fearful that the basement would be discovered or books would be unavailable wherever they ended up.
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