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That half of his farm lies in Syria and half in Lebanon is a source of mystery and inconvenience for Mohammed al-Jamal, whose family owned the property long before Europeans turned up and drew the lines that created the borders of the modern Middle East.

Al-Jamal has mostly ignored the invisible frontier that runs a few meters from his house — and so did the Syrian civil war when it erupted nearby. Relatives were kidnapped, neighbors volunteered to fight and shells came crashing in, injuring three workers, killing some of his cows and underlining just how meaningless the border is.

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