The battle for northwest Syria began much like the country’s civil war, with anti-government demonstrations in the city of Aleppo in the summer and fall of 2011 leading to heavy-handed, violent government reprisals that soon gave way to house-to-house fighting and an all-out civil war. By the fall of 2013, humanitarian organizations estimated that more than 115,000 Syrians have been killed and roughly one out every four Syrians have been displaced by the conflict.
Many refugees from Aleppo and neighboring Idlib province have fled to the countryside. Some have taken shelter in an ancient Roman ruins near Kafer Rouma. They have traded the rubble of the towns and cities–destroyed by bombs and artillery–for shelter among the ruins of an ancient settlement that decayed slowly with the passage of time.