CHTAURA, Lebanon — The mountain range that forms a natural boundary between Syria and Lebanon has long served also as a wartime conduit for people who cannot travel legally — the gunrunners, the rebels, the dissidents and the ordinary citizens who just want to escape.
On one night last month, it became a death trap. A storm whipped up at the moment a group of about 70 Syrian refugees was climbing over the mountain to try to reach Lebanon.
In the darkness, wind and snow, they began to falter. The elderly fell behind. Children tripped. Men slipped. Unable to see their guide, the refugees became lost and scattered.
One small group became so tired that they decided to lie down on the cold, hard ground and go to sleep.