Author Diana Darke has been traveling to Syria for years, and she had always admired the history and architecture of Damascus. So when she had the opportunity to become a homeowner in Syria's capital city, she instantly took it.
Courtesy of Fiona Dunlop
She bought a house in the city back in 2005, when Syria was quiet and peaceful. But even now that a civil war rages around Damacus and across the country, Darke is still fighting to hang onto the house she fell in love with.
It's located in the Muslim Quarter of Old City of Damascus, with painted ceilings and inlaid stones. Darke describes it as historic and beautiful. It took three years of shuttling back and forth between Damascus and London to complete its restoration.
After the start of the war, Darke gave a group of her friends, who were displaced, permission to take refuge in the house. "I was happy about that arrangement, and this lasted for a couple of years," she says.
That is, until recently. Darke heard that her lawyer had moved into the house and was taking it over. "He was busy kicking all my friends out," she says. She rushed to Damascus and began the lengthy process of getting her house back.
There are still a few court cases pending, but she says the house is once again hers. She has written a book about her travails called "My House in Damascus: An Inside View of the Syrian Revolution."
Darke says that while the front lines haven't reached into central Damascus, the city has been severely affected. "Residents in Damascus get less than four hours of electricity a day," she says. "There's a massive shortage of bottled gas, which is what everybody uses to cook." Some suburbs have simply been shelled practically out of existence
But while the war has made it extremely difficult for Darke to keep her house, she says she can't fathom selling it: "To give up on it would be giving up on Syria."