Interview with a Free Syrian

by editor in Uncategorized 

Giant posters, remind people of who is / was in charge

Ruth Riegler has interviewed an activist in Syria to understand about the life that he leads in revolutionary Syria. He uses a pseudonom.

RR: How would you describe life before the revolution? And what do you believe were the root causes of the revolution?

FS: My name is Free Syrian.  I want to tell the world about why we made the revolution against Bashar Al-Assad and his regime.  Everyone in the world knows that this is a great revolution, but in fact no one knows what the real reason behind it is. I will tell you.  I want the whole world to know how we lived before the revolution and to know the real reasons for it. We were living in a world in which we had to listen and obey like slaves – whatever the master says, you must obey him and do it, and if you disobey him he will punish or kill you.

We lived in a security state, which meant we were ruled by one president and his military, intelligence apparatus, army officers, military police, police, informants and shabiha [armed gangs].  When you wanted to do something, you had to first obtain their permission and see if their laws allow you to do it or not, which meant you had no right to do anything independently and would face obstacles if you tried.  Only the regime personnel lived freely and without being governed by laws; they could do what they wanted without asking, by controlling every area, including the political system , oil and gas , the economy, banks, trade,  military, agriculture and education.  In effect, they consider themselves gods.

Hafez (and then Bashar) Assad allowed Israel to militarily occupy the Golan Heights.

We lived under this regime, which claims to be anti-zionist, but in fact this is just another lie because for 47 years it never fired one single bullet at Israel, and maintained calm in the occupied Golan Heights, banning any Syrian from even shooting a gun at Israel or reclaiming this stolen land. Anyone who did so would be thrown into prison, punished and possibly killed.

We lived like slaves, without rights in anything. We were forbidden from choosing a candidate for president, holding free elections, establishing political parties or selecting our representatives for parliament.  Only Assad and his intelligence network were allowed to select MPs and they chose the most corrupt people without morality or conscience to do their bidding. If you opposed anything they did, they would put you in jail and do what they wanted to you there because you are nothing to them.

People were afraid to oppose or disagree with the regime or anyone close to the intelligence services: Syrians learned to keep our heads down and not say anything. Even if you just cursed Bashar, they would come and pick you up wherever you were and take you to the local intelligence services branch, with nobody knowing where you had gone or daring to ask about you or even mention your name.  If you wanted to start a political movement they would do the same because in Syria we had  only one party and all Syrian people were forced to join it.  If you avoided the compulsory military service and didn’t want to serve, they would imprison you for three or more months then force you to do the military service anyway.  If you died in the intelligence services’ custody, nobody would ask how  or why you died and no-one would be held accountable for your death because the constitution gives the president, his intelligence services and his military and other allies complete immunity. The Syrian people are treated as insects to be squashed underfoot with no attention paid to our deaths.

Oppression can’t be photographed, but it can be felt

The system allowed the president, his military and intelligence services to arrest, torture or kill anybody, to do as they want to us, with nobody in the outside world knowing what was going on.  Corruption, nepotism and favoritism are the norm in all state institutions and people have learnt to just exist and look out for their own interests, not asking about or helping anyone but themselves, with only Assad and his regime loyalists allowed to do what they want; Syria is his farm and Syrians are the animals.

I’d also like to mention Syria’s economy. Despite the discovery of oil and gas reserves in the northeast of the country and huge reserves of oil and gas offshore, we wondered why these commodities were so expensive for us and why we got gas and oil from Iran, Iraq and Egypt instead. We found that this was because Bashar and his family were stealing Syria’s gas and oil and selling it to Russia and to European countries for low prices, keeping the profits for themselves, while we Syrians had no choice but to buy gas and oil from state outlets at high prices – if we could find any at all.  The government constantly artificially increased the price of oil and gas and as a result the prices of every other commodity – bread, rice, sugar,  clothes, electronic goods, houses, everything – rose and continued to rise and never fell. Given our country’s great wealth in oil and gas, this is the most ridiculous situation.

Our economy is a farce. Even if the government got aid from other countries, any questions from us about where those funds went would be unanswered. When we wanted to develop the country’s education, health, agriculture, industrial sectors or its power grid, the government said that it would need to impose more taxes to do that and needed help from other nations because Syria did not have the resources.

If a Syrian trying to live a dignified life wanted to start a  manufacturing business making our own goods or to import goods  to sell, like cars or clothes or electrical equipment, the regime would not allow us unless the regime got a cut of the profits and regular bribes [above the usual taxes].  If you agreed to this, they would allow you an operating license, but if you refused they would reject your application and create obstacles for you.

Intelligence agencies, spying, total control of the lives of people. This is life under the Assad regime.

Anyone who wants to open any sort of shop, whether  a small corner shop selling groceries or a bookstore,  supermarket,  internet  café or anything else had to first get  permission from the intelligence services before applying for a license from the relevant state bodies and paying bribes to the officials.  For example, if I wished  to open an internet café I would first have to get the permission of the intelligence services, then go to the communication ministry and pay a bribe to the officials there in order to get the application processed before going to the local governorate offices, then the state financial institution, and carry on with this bureaucratic  tangle for months before actually getting anywhere at all.  Even if you wanted to get married and hold a wedding party, you needed to first obtain official state permission to do so; I’m sorry to use crude language, but it is a running joke among  Syrians that if you want to f*ck your wife you needed to get written permission from the government first.

We also have compulsory military service for every man of a certain age. Many flee abroad to work or study when they reach 18 or pay bribes in order to avoid military service.  If you couldn’t afford to travel and work or study abroad and had no other way to escape conscription, you might have been able to work as a servant to them instead or as a driver or guard. If you could afford to pay a weekly bribe to senior officers you might be excused service and allowed to go and get a job or remain unemployed instead. If you can afford to offer bigger bribes like buying a senior officer a TV set or paying his phone bills, repairing his car or performing any other useful service, you may be able to avoid military service for the next two years, but after this you would have to start your life all over once again from zero.

Syrians want freedom

These are some of the things that drove us to rise up against Assad’s regime. We want freedom. We want to choose our own lives for ourselves. We want to organize and strengthen our country with our own hands.  We want to build and manufacture our own goods in our own factories. We want to improve Syria’s education, health, agriculture and all other sectors, which Assad has ignored, to be innovators, to build the first Arab cars and trains.  Yes, we are people like any others in the world who want dignity.  For all these reasons we will continue fighting and will not back down; we will live with dignity or die as martyrs. We want freedom.

RR: Can you briefly describe a typical day, to give readers an idea of what you and other Syrians are living with?

FS: Imagine yourself waking up on a beautiful sunny morning, washing your face, drinking your coffee, smiling at the thought of what you will achieve today, even if you have to overcome obstacles put in your path by the government.  That was life before the revolution.

Now we cannot sleep at normal hours and wake up early – if we can sleep at all. Everything about our lives has changed since our blessed revolution began on May 15th, 2011 in Deraa.  Anyway, let me tell you what has changed in my schedule and life in general.  First I’ve started either sleeping late or barely sleeping at all and waking up always to hear bombing, shelling, gunfire or demonstrations, morning or night.  My habits have changed as well.  I used to go to a local English language institute to practice translation skills and develop my abilities after graduation, as well as meeting with a friend and working on finding the best place to obtain an MA in Translation Studies.  I found a place on a course in Preston, UK, but unfortunately I was unable to take up the offer because I don’t have a passport and the TOEFL courses at the American Language Centre in my city had been suspended. Although I also contacted the British Council to try to persuade them to offer a TOEFL or ILTES course in the UK, I don’t think I’ll be able to begin my MA course this year and I’ve lost my chance anyway.  This was not the only problem I faced since, after looking for a job for some time, I had been promised one with a private communications company last year. This also fell through, however, since the situation here had become steadily worse.  The fact that I did not do my military service meant that I could not work or travel, since failure to do military service prevents you from doing either, another obstacle to leaving the country to do my MA.   This left me feeling hopeless – no job, no hope of an MA, I was losing my appetite for life and everything else.   Then the regime began killing our people, at first in Deraa, where Assad’s troops used live ammunition against unarmed protesters, then tanks in cities.  We young Syrians did not like this and began holding demonstrations against it.  Then the regime began using plainclothes lowlifes and thugs , known as shabiha to terrorize us, and since then it has used everything against us.

Before the revolution I used to eat three meals a day, now I eat one. Before this I would sleep eight hours, now I might manage five at most and often stay awake until morning.  I have been working to do what I can to help other Syrians who need assistance, hiding them and helping whoever needs help in translating news and videos sent by other activists. I receive lots of news, and translate and share whatever I can, talking with friends and exchanging opinions on what we should do. Much of our conversation revolves around how every other nation in the world is supporting Bashar to remain in power because they don’t want to lose their pet pig that protects Israel and maintains its security in the region.

The regime has now put checkpoints in every town and city on all main roads and closed all the streets that lead to his palace in Damascus, as well as positioning snipers everywhere, especially in rebel areas.  If you want to go shopping or visit the gym, see friends or go anywhere else, regime troops will stop you  at the checkpoints and check your name against a long list to see if you’re wanted, identified as an activist or have avoided military service. If your name’s on the list, they will arrest you or just shoot you dead on the spot.  We have to pass through these checkpoints every day. One day recently I went to visit friends to help with revolution-related work. I was stopped for half an hour at one checkpoint and was beginning to get worried.  When a regime soldier called my name, I went and asked him what the problem was: he looked at me and said, “Take your ID and go; you’re wasting our time looking for nothing.” After that, I decided that whenever I go out, I’ll use a short cut that avoids checkpoints.  On another occasion recently, I went to Barzeh to visit the parents of a friend called Salim who had been shot dead by a sniper, to offer my condolences. At the time there were fierce clashes taking place in the area between regime troops and the FSA.  While I was on my way into the family’s apartment block, a sniper shot at and narrowly missed me. I only realised this when a stranger pulled me into the entrance and said, “Are you crazy? Do you want to die so badly?”

Life under the snipers

The pig Bashar has ordered snipers to be placed everywhere and given them instructions to shoot whoever they want. Many of my friends have been shot dead by snipers, while others have been shot but survived. One friend called Anwar, who was fearless and attended every anti-regime demonstration, was shot in the head. Despite being in the Intensive Care Unit for six months, Allah evidently wanted him to live, with the bullet passing through his skull. Although he survived, however, he is now partially paralyzed with very limited mobility in his right arm and leg.  Other friends are among those who have disappeared after being arrested by regime forces; nobody knows where they are or if they are still alive. One of them, a close friend called Bilal, always used to come along to every demonstration to support the fall of the regime.  I also hear daily about friends being kidnapped for ransom, with some friends being abducted on the street or at checkpoints. Some will call their parents to ask for money to be paid to the kidnappers; unless the ransom is paid they not be told where their child is.

It is impossible to describe the hell we are living through, without any order or stability, while the world looks on and does nothing.  Many young men flee abroad just to survive; others join the FSA, many of them after defecting from regime forces where they are forced to serve.  This is my life in Syria at present. I’ve considered joining the FSA. To be honest, I often want to escape as fast as possible. I thought previously of running away, going abroad, but as I mentioned I don’t have a passport and although I’ve asked many friends and acquaintances to help  me get out of here it’s very hard to do so without a passport.

In the end, I want to say that I hate Bashar Al Assad and his father since they came to rule Syria.  We know all his family’s history and what they have done. We know their murderous destruction,  and we know that Hafez Al Assad had  support  for and a cover-up of his crimes in Hama, Aleppo and Deir El Zour from the USA, Russia, Iran and Israel and that the same countries are  now doing the same thing for his son, Bashar.

Aftermath of the destruction from tanks that rolled into the Palestinian camp Yarmouk near Damascus

RR:  How do you respond to those who continue to insist that Assad is an anti-Zionist icon?

We all know that Hafez  Al Assad (may God Curse him and his son) sold the Golan Heights to Israel and that he was responsible for killing many Palestinians in Lebanon and Syria to maintain Israel’s security in Lebanon.  Now his son, Bashar, is doing the same thing in a different way. He has attacked many Palestinian areas in Syria, most notably the Yarmouk camp in Damascus, which I saw with my own eyes.  If you believe that he supports Hezbollah to fight and defeat Israel, that is a lie.  We all know that he gave Hezbollah the green light to kill the Sunni leader Rafiq Al Hariri in Lebanon,  as well as giving Nasrallah  approval to improve his  [Nasrallah’s]  image and make him look like a war hero, but the war against Israel in 2007 was another lie, simply a ploy to allow Hezbollah’s expansion in Lebanon and let the Shiites have greater power in the country to allow Iran to have control there and achieve Tehran’s plan for a Shiite Middle East stretching from Iran to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.   Bashar Al Assad always insists that he opposes Israel, that he leads the resistance to it. To which I would respond, then why do you jail, torture and kill my friends and tens of thousands of other people in Syria?  Why do you kill my Palestinian and Iraqi brothers?  Why did you do nothing when Israeli warplanes violated Syrian airspace?   Don’t try lying to the Syrian people, we know you better than anybody; we all know that your job is to kill us and protect Israel; may God curse you, you son of adultery.

Image of Homs during some of the worst violence

RR:  How do you cope with the stress of living in what is in effect a warzone?

It is very hard for us to secure our needs under these circumstances; we live prudently and we only eat and buy whatever is essential.  For me, it makes it harder knowing that I am jobless and my father is still helping me financially.  I live with my parents and help them; in the current situation most extended families in Syria are now crowded into one house, with anything from three to ten separate families in every home.  The situation is very bad – most of Syria, 65 or 75 percent, is destroyed.  We try to buy and store whatever food we can, but some areas are without anything.  In areas like Homs they cannot find any food or anything to protect them and keep them warm.  Winter will come soon, after two months, and we want to end this as soon as possible.  Most Syrian cities have nothing left – Assad has burnt most of the crops and destroyed homes.  I can eat most days, but others cannot and I am worried about them.  We send them aid, but the regime is besieging those areas, although the FSA does its best and works hard to deliver aid and medicine.

Nobody really has any idea of the tragedy we are living, but our spirits remain high and we all know that we will win because Allah is with us and we will kill Bashar, inshallah. We will continue to support each other with food, medicine or anything needed in order to win. I want to stress that our country’s real army is the Free Syrian Army, the FSA, and we are very proud of them. We are all Syrian people and we will stay as one hand: as we shout at our demonstrations, ‘One, one, one – the Syrian people are one.’

Many months later, the world is still just watching the genocide.

RR: How do you feel about the apathy from much of the world towards the Syrian revolution and has it changed your views of the ‘international community’? If so, how?

Why did the whole world bless the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen and support them while nobody has helped or supported our revolution in Syria or tried to tell the truth about the righteousness of our cause?  Why have Russia, Iran, China and Iraq been allowed to continue helping Bashar and his regime with weapons, money, oil, gas and political initiatives?  Why haven’t the Western powers tried to help us by creating a no-fly zone, providing us with the necessary weapons or secure safe zones for civilians?

All of these questions may appear to have no answer to them, but we Syrians know why:  they [the Western powers] want to impose their solution on us in their way, and that is what we will not accept.  But I will tell you what options or solutions they offer us. They want us to accept their terms by allowing Bashar to remain in power, giving us cosmetic freedom and surface changes by making a national unity government.  They don’t want noble people or true, honorable patriots and they don’t want the FSA; they want to kill them all and impose their wishes on us. Most importantly they want Israel left in peace with no danger of anyone even approaching it and, as history proves, Bashar is the best candidate for that. So they let Iran, Russia and Iraq support him by sending him more weapons and troops to help him after he had no Syrians left following mass defections since Syrians don’t want him. They allow those nations to send him money and troops from Hezbollah, the Mahdi Army and the Al Quds force.  Their pretext for allowing this is that the issue is difficult and complex, but in fact it is very simple:  we want freedom. Give us the heavy weaponry needed to destroy his warplanes, tanks and rocket launchers and we can win. They know that Bashar is extremely weak, so they also use the excuse that if they give us weapons the FSA will not be able to control the access to them and Al Qaeda will gain power. But Syrians are all well aware that there is no Al Qaeda in Syria or in any Arab nations, so the Western powers came up with another excuse: that our opposition is not united. But in fact the opposition which overthrew regimes in other nations has not been united either.

The Western powers have also done nothing for Syrian refugees in  Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq; they have sent no real aid to them or allowed them to do any work. They have not even registered them with the UN, just left them in camps situated in dead zones in Iraq and Jordan because they want  Syrians to obey their orders by accepting Bashar Al Assad and returning to living under his rule  and will punish us with no food, water or basic amenities if we refuse. They will not help us to kill him; nobody will help us. We have only ourselves and God to depend on, and that is what we are doing now.

Funeral for slain FSA combatants

RR:  How do you see the situation in Syria developing in the short and long term, and do you feel optimistic that there will be peace after Assad falls?

The situation will be bloody and slow-moving if  we do not work hard to resolve it.  If we can move fast to liberate ourselves that will be the best way in order to not lose more Syrians and to save what we still can of our people, properties, infrastructure, economy and everything else.  If we let him do what he and his allies and the Western powers want, we will lose more people and there will be far more bloodshed.  If that happens, the bloodbath will continue, it will be a genocide, with thousands more killed, the country plundered and looted by his forces, buildings and infrastructure destroyed, the economy devastated, thousands more living in exile and a brain drain of the best people who are essential to rebuild the country, which will just be left in chaos.   We Syrians don’t want or accept that, so we work hard with each other to plan and unify our lives to kill him and end this terrible situation soon.  We  Syrian people  are optimistic because Allah is with us and we are one hand, so we believe there will be peace soon. If he stays there will be no peace, just more chaos and bloodshed and we will live in darkness as slaves forever.  We refuse to accept that, so we prefer to live in dignity or die as martyrs. That is our preferred option – death rather than further humiliation.

RR:  How do you view claims that this is a ‘sectarian civil war’ which have been repeated in many news media?

There is no sectarian civil war:  this is just propaganda used and promoted by the regime and other countries. They claim that if the regime goes there will be civil war and people killing each other, but if it stays he will keep Syrian society united. This is a barefaced lie; what they and the regime are working to do is to carve Syria up into autonomous regions like Iraq, with the Kurds having a state in the northeast, the Druze in the south and the Alawites on the Syrian coast while the Sunnis get the rest.  That is their plan, and Bashar is working hard to attain his ambition of an Alawite-Shiite state.   They forget though that since the beginning of our revolution our motto has been ‘One, one, one – the Syrian people are one.’

The regime flames sectarianism as a counterpart of the revolution. The people think differently!

This country is for all people:  whatever your religion, sect or group you are Syrian and belong to Syria. Syrian people of all sects refuse this plan to divide our nation and all have called for unity. I have met and talked with Alawite, Shiite, Christian, Druze and Sunni Syrians during our revolution and all have rejected these plans to divide us. We all call for unity – one people, one country, although the regime has tried many times to arm different sects and turn them against each other, to create division between us.  However hard he tries though, we will not allow ourselves to be used like this, to fight and kill one another – we are all brothers and sisters.

Finally, I want to say one more thing about this: before our revolution began we lived together in peace and harmony. I personally lived in an apartment block with Shiite, Jewish and Christian neighbors. My friends are from all sects and we love one another and live together.

RR:  Do you feel that this experience has changed you as a person? If so, in what ways?

Yes, it has changed me and it has increased my awareness of the global conspiracy to ensure the failure of our revolution.  I discovered too that the whole world looks only to their own interests and don’t care about anyone else but themselves.   I don’t believe any longer in the rhetoric from UN bodies or non-governmental organizations, whether it’s Human Rights Watch, UNICEF, UNICO, the ICC, CJI or anything else.  The whole world has not managed to create one program to help Syrians in Syria or refugees in neighboring countries or even hold a meeting of donors.  Even the ‘Friends of Syria’ conference achieved nothing; they just watch us and let him kill us with Russian and Iranian support.

The revolution has given me hope in one way though: do you want to know how?  It taught me that when you face any problems or obstacles in your life, nobody else but maybe even a handful of true friends will care about or help you or your family, you must do it yourself and help others in the same situation however you can. It has made me more aware and proud of my people and my country and what we need to do to end this. We are peaceful people and we have resources. We can rebuild ourselves and our country, develop our existing  skills and learn new skills.  I am now more responsible than I was: I want to build myself up, develop my skills, acquire more knowledge and share it with my people. I want to teach the next generations that we fought and sacrificed our lives to win our freedom and we should never again accept anyone who believes they are a god and have a divine right to rule over us forever, but should elect only selfless leaders who care about the Syrian people and nation rather than self-enrichment.

I want to emphasize that the revolution is in our hands.  I think that the world needs to change and to realize that all the people on the planet are equals and must be allowed to have freedom. I have also discovered that those who call themselves Arab leaders and rule Arab countries are actually either treacherous agents for external powers or simply don’t care about Arabs at all.

RR: How much longer do you personally believe the revolution will continue and what do you think is likely to happen in the post-revolution period?

When we began this revolution, we knew that we would never go back  and we still know that:  after all we have been through and sacrificed, we would be doomed if we even considered  returning to how things were; this is our final answer.  All that Bashar has done to us and continued to do without pause he has done with increasing support from Israel, Russia, Iran and China; we have proved to the world  which continues to deny their involvement  that Iranian, Hezbollah and Russian troops have been caught in every Syrian city, with every one of them carrying documents proving this. We have also obtained official regime documents proving that Bashar has brought more and more Shiite troops from Iran, Lebanon and Iraq, including members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, with Russia and the other nations sending him weapons, as well as troops.  Despite all this, however, his regime is losing the battle, but his allies and the Western powers want him to stay and keep covering up for him in every way they can. Unfortunately for them, we will defeat him and them and kill him soon, inshallah.

The army of the regime has razed to the ground more than half of Syria. In this photo, the FSA walk through a neighbourhood in Damascus.

So, if you ask me how long the revolution will continue, I  say we will continue until we kill him and kick Russia, Iran and Hezbollah out of our country.  Nobody in Syria will accept ending it now because every household I every Syrian village town and city has at least one martyr, detainee, victim of abduction by regime forces or family member driven into exile.  Do you know that he annihilated many families? Do you know that he destroyed most cities and has detained over 250,000 people?  Do you know that he is now collectively punishing every person in every area opposed to him (most of Syria) and his forces are poisoning the water supply and foodstuffs, even targeting bakeries so that the people will starve? Do you know that his forces are withholding medicines and medical treatment, bombing hospitals and targeting medical staff  in the hope that this will force the Syrian people to obey him?    We say to him, go to hell.

The whole world sees this and does nothing, excusing itself by saying, “It’s difficult and complicated,” but in fact it is very simple – Syrians want freedom from dictatorship – and they could help if they wanted to.  Syrians know all this. We will continue and support one another and support and fight for the FSA. Whatever Bashar does, we will not stop; every man, woman and child will fight to our last breath. We will not accept what the world wants for us, we will not back down or accept what they want to impose on us.  We began this and we will end it.  Above all, we have said from the start, Allah is with us, and Allah and nobody but Allah is with us.  We have nobody but Allah.

You are asking me,  “what will you do after the revolution?”  We are working undercover, to prepare everything and cooperate with each other. We have plans in place, but the problem is that we cannot reveal them  for fear of the wrong  people finding out what we are planning.  All I can say is that we are coordinating between the FSA, the military councils, the opposition and various  parties to ensure that normality and the rule of law will be restored once the regime falls so that the Syrian people can go back to leading normal lives . We will create a transitional government which will remain in place until a new constitution is created and a new president, government and parliament are established.

RR:  What are your plans for the post-revolution period, and have your experiences in living through the revolution changed these in any way? If so, how?

Actually, I would like to gain experience and be actively involved in political issues.  I want to play an active role in rebuilding and developing my country, and to help provide what’s needed like food and medicines.  I’d like to be involved in humanitarian aid and relief work because, as you know, we now have many adult and children amputees who have lost limbs in regime attacks and need artificial limbs, as well as people needing urgent surgical operations.  All this is going to cost billions to do, so we need to obtain funds for it or get help from hospitals overseas.

I’d also like to be involved in the education system. As you know, I’m a translator and I’d like to help teach children and young people in schools, colleges and other education institutions. The regime has killed educators in many fields, so we have a massive shortage in this area and need to work hard to fill these vacancies and oversee the implementation of  a real education plan to introduce an accelerated learning program in order to avoid future problems for those kids who’ve  missed two years of learning because regime bombardment  and chaos means they could not continue with their education.

We want to catch everyone involved in killing, torture, rape and looting, to give them trials and imprison them and to execute the worst culprits. We are not going to allow anyone to escape punishment because of their sect. We have all been exposed without discrimination to persecution, terror and intimidation, and too many have been tortured and/or killed, so we want justice and dignity for all equally.

Finally, I want to participate actively in the political process to help and represent my country and my people.  I still have my ambition to get an MA in Translation and Interpreting, even though the regime has deprived me of that opportunity so far and wasted two years of my life with a brutal war against all Syria’s people.  That is what has been imposed on us, but we still reject the regime.

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