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    A Syrian man arranges balloons in front of a shop selling Valentine's day gifts in the northeastern city of Qamishli on February 13, 2017

    Through the Barricades: Syria's Star-Crossed Lovers Mark St. Valentine's Day

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    Young Syrians told Sputnik they are determined to keep their love alive, in spite of the war that separates them.

    In spite of the war that has ravaged their country for the last six years, young Syrians continue to hope for a better future with their loves ones.

    On Valentine's Day, young couples told Sputnik their stories of love and separation, and shared their hopes that on February 14 next year, they will finally be together.

    "My fiancé and I met two years ago; he was a Syrian army officer. We don't see each other often, but when he says, 'wait for me,' I am willing to wait for as long as it takes," 32-year-old Nawar told Sputnik.

    "We can't celebrate February 14 together, but I don't despair. This is a day for celebration and our love distracts us from the tragedy that we are faced with every day. We can't overcome this crisis without war. Truth be told, the war divides lovers, but the main thing is that we haven't betrayed our homeland," Nawar said.

    Rajaa, 25, lives in Damascus. Her fiancé Usef is serving in the army on the other side of the country, in the eastern province of Deir ez-Zor.

    "We met six years ago, on St. Valentine's Day. After a while we started to correspond over 'Whatsapp.'  We haven’t met in person for a long time, and we haven't been able to celebrate this day (again)."

    "This time, I want to send him a small gift via his colleague, who is being treated for leg injuries in a hospital in Damascus."

    Last month the Syrian army liberated the Wadi Barada area near Damascus, thus securing the main water source for the capital. 

    Emboldened by their decisive victory in Aleppo, Syrian army troops launched an offensive against militants entrenched in the vicinity of Damascus in December.

    Mahmud, a soldier, has tattooed the name of his wife, Saba, on his left arm. He is serving in Joubar, a municipality on the outskirts of Damascus. He told Sputnik that the troops are keeping each other's spirits up. 

    Some are experiencing St. Valentine's Day without their loved ones for the first time, while others are used to greeting their wives or girlfriends on the telephone.

    "I didn't celebrate this day before, but the distance from my wife has made me appreciate St. Valentine's Day. Being away from my beloved wife, I try to do things that will please her. I take beautiful photos and send them to her over Whatsapp," Mahmud said.

    In the neighboring barracks, his comrade Safwan showed a present he received from his fiancée. She had given him a black shawl, to protect him from the winter cold.

    "I have been fighting on this front more than four years. This time, I took leave so that I could surprise my girlfriend and come to Homs to celebrate the day together. The war has forced me to take up arms, but it can't take away my freedom to love," Safwan said.

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