Syrian Mother Speaks of Her Son Sold Into Battle

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In the beginning, I was very hesitant. My son is too young to travel on his own, but when I saw him deteriorate, I agreed especially after she told me a group from Egypt would go with him so I wouldn’t worry. I got my son ready and I said my goodbyes, unbeknownst to me that he would return to where we fled from.

The lady took care of all the travel expenses and the plane ticket. When my son arrived in Turkey, the group he was with handed him over to another group. After Mohammad got there, his phone calls became less frequent. I often asked him why he didn’t get in touch more often, and he used to say he didn’t have any internet connection. I eventually realized that the group he was living with was keeping tabs on him.

He stayed in Turkey for a week, but then he disappeared for a week. When I asked F.K. about him, she said he was busy with blood tests and doctor's visits.

One day, my son sent me a photo of himself in a military suit, carrying arms, wearing a black headband and writing religious slogans on a wall. I started screaming: "What is this? How did you get there? What’s happening? Where are you?"

I later learned that my son had been dispatched to the border where his brigade was stationed, and where it had military training camps for foreign recruits. My son was one of them.

He started calling me secretly, without anyone noticing. He used to send me pictures sporting different types of weapons. One time he was riding a Doshka; another time he was carrying a [Kalashnikov]. But the worst was when I saw him wearing an explosive belt. When I asked him what it was, he said it’s an explosive belt because I’m training to carry out a suicide mission.

He didn’t know what he was saying. After all, he’s only a child. Sometimes, you see him happy with arms, but other times, he’s scared. But there’s no place for fear there; my child fears his brigade commander and if he objects [to their orders], he will be killed.

Since I realized that my son is in Syria, F.K. no longer takes my phone calls. I now tell people about her and what she’s done to me. When she caught wind of it, she got in touch with my son's brigade commander.

The man called me and threatened me that if I say one more word about this subject, I will lose my son, and potentially, I will lose my life as well.

Currently, I’m talking to a social worker at UNHCR to resolve this problem. I speak to her in secret because as you know, the U.N. has no access to these areas in Syria. They won’t be able to help me. They could try to get my son back to Egypt, but the first problem is getting him out of Syria.

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