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Syria activists brave war to watch World Cup

Rebel fighters watch the opening World Cup 2014 football match between Brazil and Croatia on June 12, 2014 in the northern Syrian city of AleppoYoung Syrian opposition activists living with the constant dangers of more than three years at war are braving bombardment by government forces and jihadists’ threats to watch their favourite World Cup teams. In Raqa province, controlled by powerful jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), one young activist and avid football fan risked the extremists’ anger to sneak out to watch Spain play the Netherlands. “Members of ISIL raided the cafeterias on the first day of the World Cup, and forced the young people to go pray,” said the activist who identified himself as Abu Ibrahim. So I watched Friday evening’s match, Spain-Netherlands, at a friend’s house.

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