A general view of damaged buildings at al-Midan neighbourhood in Damascus July 23, 2012. Picture taken July 23, 2012.
REUTERS/Shaam News Network/Handout
The spiraling violence in Syria has claimed thousands of innocent lives, but most of us have not heard the stories first- or second-hand.
As this article is being written, fierce battles are being waged in Aleppo, with helicopter gunships, jets, and heavy artillery bombarding civilian areas in the governmentâ€™s desperate attempts to root out opposition which only a week previously managed to spill the blood of the presidentâ€™s top security personnel and family, the Defense Minister and the head of Syriaâ€™s crisis management team.
Late last week, as fierce fighting raged through Damascus in the wake of the Free Syrian Armyâ€™s (FSAâ€™s) brazen attacks in Damascus, 12 innocent civilians huddled in the basement of their building to avoid the heavy bombardment and crossfire between government soldiers and the FSA.
The twelve included the relatives of Dr. Mowafak Asbahi, a physician and gastroenterologist practicing in Livonia, Michigan, who originally comes from Damascus. Dr. Asbahiâ€™s niece Rina was among those twelve, and Rinaâ€™s husband and three children.
Government soldiers knoc-ked on the door, went inside, and brutally killed all inside from point blank range.
The dead included Rina, her husband Sayeedul Khateeb, and their daughters Bayan and Noorul Huda and their son Waseem. Their children were two, four, and eight. â€œShe was a lovely, kind, goodhearted housewife, taking care of her kids and her husband, very lovable;â€ said the doctor. She used to help â€œfamily and help poor people, and she was just a goodhearted person, everybody loved her and admired her values and morals, and she made people happy around her.â€
Dr. Asbahi says that he hopes the fighting will come to a conclusion soon, and that Syria will be able to rebuild.
Dr. Asbahiâ€™s son Mazen is an attorney based in Chicago but who splits his time between Chicago and Washington. He functions as the government affairs director for the Syrian-Expatriates organization.
The attorney explains that he grew up â€œfriends and very close with [Rinaâ€™s] family.â€
â€œRina and her familyâ€™s horrific deaths, they hit us very hard, they make it all the more real for us the immense suffering and sacrifice that the Syrian people are making…â€
Mazen Asbahi explained to TMO that Americans who are moved by this story can contribute to the Syrian Expatriates organization, which can be found at www.syrian-expatriates.org.