Hanna is a Christian man from Syria’s eastern province of al Hasaka. Born into a modest family of farmers, Hanna started working at an early age to help provide for his siblings. Life was difficult for his family but they were happy and lived peacefully until the civil war erupted in 2011.
It wasn’t long before the flames of the brutal war reached his hometown, pitching regime forces against Islamic rebels. After several fierce battles, governmental troops were defeated and forced to withdraw from the entire region. The victorious rebels were now in control of a large area and some of the radical elements among them began to terrorize locals, especially Christians. Fighters went on a campaign to subdue their newly conquered population, driving their vehicles between homes and randomly opening fire.
One day, while driving back home, Hanna’s car was intercepted by gunmen. He was hit on the head with a blunt instrument and passed out. The gunmen took him to their base and began to mercilessly torture him. They knew he was Christian and were seeking to exchange him for a large ransom. Luckily, his parents managed to gather the needed amount, and Hanna was released. The kidnapping left a profound wound in Hanna, he was deeply traumatized and remained home for two years after his release. He was living in constant fear and did not leave the premises of the house.
Years passed, and regime forces were once again able to regain control of the region. Shortly afterward, local men were summoned to serve in the dictator’s military. All young males were forced to join the army, especially Christians, who were treated as expendables and sent to the most dangerous fronts. Meanwhile, terrorists were still operating in the area and began targeting the families of recruits to dissuade them from joining the armed forces.
Hanna’ parents became extremely worried for their children, especially after a large explosion severely injured his brother who lost his leg. They were afraid that their children were going to be drafted, and feared retaliation from terrorists. With the help of smugglers, Hanna was successfully relocated into to a nearby safer town. His family was planning to join him, but unfortunately, rebels retook control of their village, forcing them to postpone their plans.
To make things worse, rebels began threatening Hanna’s family after becoming suspicious of them due to their missing son. Eventually, they were expelled from their lands, and forced to join thousands of other refugees in neighboring Lebanon. Hanna was still in hiding and could not join them. He remained hidden for another year, until one day, a rocket struck the house he was hiding in. The construction partially collapsed and Hanna was buried in the rubbles for several hours before he was miraculously dug out. He barely survived and was severely injured. His parents who were trying to call him feared the worst. They kept dialing his number, but no one answered. Many days later Hanna was finally able to contact his parents and reassure them that he was still alive.
It took many days before Hanna was released from the hospital. But as soon as he stepped out of the medical facility, he began receiving death threats. Islamist militiamen had discovered that he was Christian, and threatened to kill him. Terrified and not knowing what to do, he began losing hope of ever seeing his family again. Injured and with nowhere to go, Hanna was on the verge of collapsing.
Luckily one of his friends told him about TNF, and the good work being done in Syria. Hanna quickly reached out requesting help. Instantly, TNF began planning for a rescue mission to relocate him to a safe zone. A highly risky and daring operation was carried out by the most experienced of our operators, and Hanna was successfully extracted to Iraq. He is currently in a safe place under the care and protection of TNF.
TNF is also helping Hanna with the required immigration process to reunite him with his parents and siblings who moved overseas. They had not seen him in the last five years, but thanks to TNF Hanna will be able to rejoin them in the near future.
*All names were changed to protect the identity of the victims.