Chapter VI: Heart



The old man complains about his heart. Sitting on a light mattress in his apartment in southern Turkey a few kilometres from the Syrian border, Yasin puts his hand on his chest and says he had a heart attack due to anxiety. He says he had one son who supported the regime and another who supported the opposition. That weakened his heart.

His son Abdul Jabar is 25 and spent three-and-a-half years in the Syrian army. In 2010, he began his military service and a year later, the first demonstrations began. “I was there from the beginning of the conflict,” he says. “I couldn’t take it anymore and I told my companions. They reported me. I was tortured and they put me in jail. I was released six months later.”


His brother, Aladdin Qadad, is 32 years old. He spent the first years of the war, when his brother was in the army, in a rural area of Aleppo controlled by armed opposition groups. “It was terrible. We suffered a lot. Nearly every day they wanted to take me with them to fight, but I refused.”


The two brothers were reunited in the city of Aleppo in northern Syria. Along with the rest of the family, they planned their escape. They crossed the border and arrived in Turkey. Now they are living in the Turkish city of Kilis, in a rented flat. Even after all they have been through, the brothers who stood on opposite sides of the war do not want to hear about Europe. They want to stay as close as possible to Syria.


“This is as close as we can be to Syria,” says the mother of the reunited brothers.

Her husband puts his hand to his heart.