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Ruth Sherlock

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The band Mashrou' Leila has built up a huge following in the last decade, especially in their home country, Lebanon.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MASHROU' LEILA: (Singing in foreign language).

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On a beach in Muscat, Oman's capital, families gather on a Friday evening to enjoy a brief respite from the scalding heat of this desert country's summer. Women fully clad in abayas splash amid the gentle waves with their children. Shrieks of laughter fill the warm air. Toddlers build sandcastles at the water's edge.

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As the war in Syria winds down, President Bashar al-Assad is calling on the millions of Syrians who have fled to return home.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

In the northeastern Lebanese city of Arsal, near the Syrian border, young boys stand in the blistering June heat, swinging sledgehammers to knock down simple structures made of concrete breeze blocks. Some of the children are as young as 8 years old. They're helping the adults reduce the walls to rubble.

The structures they're demolishing are their own homes, in a camp that shelters 23 Syrian families.

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Lebanon has accepted Syrian refugees but doesn't want them to think they can stay forever, so it's told thousands that their homes must be demolished. NPR's Ruth Sherlock visited one town where refugees are doing that work themselves.

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