Mixed feelings for Syrian exiles as footballers hold on to World Cup dream

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In Lebanon, Syrian refugees are proud of their national side but say regime has co-opted its success

Minutes after a late equaliser sent the Syrian football team to a World Cup playoff, Tareq – a football fan and regime critic – was unsure about what to feel, or how to react.

Alongside him in Beirut, two other Syrian exiles, Akram and Hashem, were just as conflicted. All three men, in their late 20s, had fled with their families as war engulfed Syria in 2011. And in six wrenching years since, feelgood moments had been rare, and often contrived.

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