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May 23, 2015

Pictures of Syria in 1940: Crossroads of the Middle East During World War II

In 1940, seven months before the United States entered World War II and nine months after Germany invade Poland, LIFE sent photographer Margaret Bourke-White to the young republic in order to document Syria's pivotal role—cultural, geographical, military—in the region.

Here's a collection of rare photographs which many of them did not run in LIFE before, featuring Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and other Syrian cities and towns as they appeared in the middle part of the last century.

A view of Damascus, Syria, 1940.

Raising the French flag at Aleppo, Syria, 1940.

Women carry water containers on their heads as they lead mules along a road in a desert village near Damascus, Syria, 1940.

Members of the Bedouin "camel cavalry" near Damascus, Syria, 1940.

Street scene, Damascus, Syria, 1940.

View of the downtown area of Aleppo from atop the ramparts of the great citadel built in the 4th century B.C.

View from above Aleppo, Syria, 1940.

Soldiers urge a mule up the steps of the citadel at Aleppo, Syria, 1940.

Scene in Aleppo, Syria, 1940.

Inside the garrison of the French expeditionary force in the great citadel at Aleppo, Syria, 1940.

Street scene, Aleppo, 1940.

A narrow street in downtown Aleppo, Syria, 1940.

A Moroccan soldier of the French expeditionary force holds an officer's Arabian horse inside the great citadel at Aleppo, 1940.

Engineers relax on the grounds of the great citadel, Aleppo, 1940.

French Foreign Legion soldiers at their outpost at Homs, Syria, 1940.

French Foreign Legion soldiers gather around newly erected tents as they set up their outpost near Homs, Syria, 1940.

South of Homs, men of the Tunisian infantry prepare to eat.

Archaeological ruins with modern homes in background, Syria, 1940.

A family walks past the walled town and beehive-shaped homes of Tell Bisse, Syria, 1940.

View of the walled town of Tell Bisse, Syria, 1940.

Syrian children outside the walled town of Tell Bisse, Syria, 1940.

(Photos by Margaret Bourke-White—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)




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