Snow has fallen in parts of the Middle East as a powerful winter storm swept through the region, killing two Syrian refugees in Lebanon and forcing thousands who have fled their country's civil war to huddle for warmth in refugee camps.

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Syrian refugee children look out of their tent at a refugee camp in Zahle, in the Bekaa valley, LebanonMohamed Azakir/Reuters

Heavy snow fell in the mountains and Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. Petrol stations, schools, banks and shops were shut and power was cut throughout the country, but it was particularly trying for the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who live in tents and makeshift shelters.

Near the town of Anjar, on the border with Syria, refugees used brooms and sticks to try to clear heavy snow from the tops of their tents, fearing the shelters would collapse. Inside, adults huddled around wood-burning stoves to try to keep warm.

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Syrian refugees stand amid a snow storm at an unofficial camp on the road between Riyaq and Baalbek in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley, near the border with SyriaAFP
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Snow-covered tents are seen at an unofficial refugee camp for Syrians fleeing violence in their country in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa ValleyAFP
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Syrian refugees carrying petrol walk through snow at the UN-run Fayda refugee camp near the Bekaa Valley town of Zahle in eastern LebanonAFP
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A Syrian refugee boy reacts as he stands barefoot on snow outside a tent at a refugee camp in Zahle, in the Bekaa valley, LebanonMohamed Azakir/Reuters

Elsewhere, Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip declared a state of emergency over the storm.

An eight-month-old Palestinian infant in the Tulkarem refugee camp died in a fire caused by a heating stove, said Palestinian civil defense ministry spokesman Louay Bani Odeh.

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Palestinians walk on a street during a snow storm in the West Bank city of RamallahMohamad Torokman/Reuters
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A Palestinian man walks down a street covered with snow in the West Bank city of NablusAbed Omar Qusini/Reuters
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A Palestinian woman covers a boy with a blanket at their home inside a cave, during a winter storm in the village of al-Mufaqara, near Yatta, south of the West Bank city of HebronHazem Bader/AFP

Snow also accumulated in the Golan Heights and northern Israel. Jerusalem schools closed ahead of a forecast warning of 10 inches (25 centimetres) of snowfall. The weather dominated Israeli media newscasts as snow fell in repeated bursts in Jerusalem, with media promising more snowfall later.

Israeli police closed roads in the country's north as Jerusalem city officials directed snow preparations from a "war room" in a bunker underneath city hall, and deployed about 150 snow ploughs. The military readied armoured personnel carriers to help the police.

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Cows walk through a snow-covered field in the Golan HeightsJack Guez/AFP
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Snow-covered cars are abandoned in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights on the border with SyriaJack Guez/AFP
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A snow plough clears a road in the Golan Heights on the border with SyriaJack Guez/AFP

In Syria, snow blanketed Qassioun Mountain, which overlooks the capital, Damascus. The snowfall also brought traffic to a near standstill in the city and the Education Ministry shuttered schools and universities for two days.

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Syrian children play in the snow in the residential neighbourhood of Jaramana in southern DamascusLouhai Beshara/AFP
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Syrian youths walk through the snow carrying bags of pitta bread from a bakery in DamascusAFP

Heavy snow brought parts of Turkey to a standstill. Turkish Airlines cancelled 44 flights as the cities of Ankara and Istanbul were blanketed with snow.

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Boys play in the snow at a park during winter in AnkaraUmit Bektas/Reuters
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A person walks next to a motorbike on a snow-covered street at night in Ankara, TurkeyAdem Altan/AFP
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A woman walks on the Galata bridge as snow falls in IstanbulBulent Kilic/AFP