Syrian-Born Ranger Speaks Up

Sophomore Mohamad Skaf shares his opinions about the civil war in his home country

Sophomore+Mohamad+Skaf+voices+his+opinions+when+asked+about+the+current+conflict+in+his+home+country%2C+Syria.+Photo+by+Taylor+Torres

Sophomore Mohamad Skaf voices his opinions when asked about the current conflict in his home country, Syria. Photo by Taylor Torres

Walking to get groceries for his family, the man in his late seventies appears harmless. With no reason for him to stick out, this man would pass by unnoticed by many in the U.S.

In the U.S. he would not have to worry about who saw him as he walked to buy milk and eggs.

In the U.S. he would not have armed soldiers taking interest in him along his journey.

In the U.S. he would not have nearly had his feet shot off by the Syrian Army.

But this is Syria.

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Sophomore Mohamad Skaf was born in Damascus, Syria in 1998. His family moved from the country when he was 12 years old as the current war was beginning.

The Syrian Civil War began in 2011 when activists and their families holding peaceful demonstrations protesting the government were raped, tortured, and killed, their bodies left in the streets. These backlashes by the government have caused armed civilians and the army to turn against each other sparking the civil war occurring today.

When Skaf left Syria in the 2000’s, the conflicts he was witnessing were decades-old tensions caused by mass killings of Muslim Brotherhood members in the 1980’s. The government destroyed whole neighborhoods in an effort to suppress their protests.

Not too long after he left, Skaf learned his friends had become victims in the conflict.

“They were at school and…the police came in and they shot a couple of them, scared the others,” Skaf said.

Although Skaf was never there for these school raids, he knew the details of them. He said the police and the Syrian Army would go into the schools looking for weapons, leaving the students scared and others slaughtered.

“[The police] don’t realize [that there are no weapons], they just go in and mess everything up. They start throwing stuff,” Skaf said

It wasn’t just school where the Syrian Army caused dismay.

Skaf explained that when he lived in Syria he lived with his grandparents. One time the army went in, “messed up the house, and … cut the chairs.”

His grandparents ended up moving closer to where President Bashar al-Assad lives.

“That’s the only safe place,” Skaf said.

Amongst all the chaos in his country, Skaf said he supports the Free Syrian Army because they broke off from the regular Syrian Army once the killing of innocent people started.

Skaf speaks of a time when the Syrian Army senselessly destroyed their food.

“We had wheat, we used to make bread because we couldn’t go outside to buy it,” Skaf said. “[The soldiers] took them, cut the bags, and threw them in the trash.”

What would Skaf like to see happen regarding the Syrian conflict?

“I hope [the U.S.] kills the president,” Skaf said. “I hope that Obama fires the missles.”

As for the effect of the Syrian war on Skaf’s life, the change is drastic.

“My hometown, it’s all gone. The old houses on the ground, it’s all gone,” Skaf said.