A Syrian refugee sits in a bus in Beirut before returning to Syria, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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As the bus pulled out of a Beirut car park heading for Damascus, Ahmed Sheikh waved from the window, excited, he said, to be returning home to Syria after years as a refugee in Lebanon.About half Syria's prewar population fled after war broke out in 2011, 6.3 million of them as refugees abroad and 6 million displaced in their own country.One million Syrian children have been born in exile as refugees since the crisis began.In Syria he owned a bakery, and later worked in Lebanon as a baker after making the long, circuitous journey through war-ravaged Syria with his wife and five children.He and his sons will stay with his sister in Manbij, which is controlled by local U.S.-backed forces.His wife and three daughters will not return to Syria yet. The Lebanese and Syrian governments have organized numerous returns for groups of refugees who register to go back.
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