With the ceasefire in Syria mostly holding and more and more areas joining the truce, families long separated by war are finally being reunited. RT’s Lizzie Phelan talked with two families whose stories are alike, yet at the same time are very different.
Areej was taken from the city of Adra in Damascus province. Militants pointed a Kalashnikov at her in front of her two young daughters and abducted her. After three years of captivity, she is now safely back at home with her husband and children.
“That moment when I saw my daughters, I started screaming like crazy – I could not believe it – I felt like I wasn’t really seeing them… I hugged them and cried, but I didn’t feel as though I was hugging them – I felt like I was hallucinating,” Areej told the RT crew.
She described how, after being kidnapped, prisoners were unscrupulously divided between the various rebel groups fighting in the area and were moved around.
“At first we were in the custody of Jaish al-Islam, then they separated us between different factions. Every militia fighting in Adra was rewarded with more captives according to how effective they were on the battlefield. The biggest group of captives was awarded to Jaish al-Islam.”
She and her husband Ghais also explained that along with many others, Areej was taken not to be killed, but to be used in the militants' scare tactics.
“It’s worse than death. If I know my wife is dead, then ok, she is dead, [but] every day they would call me and tell me they would cut her arm off or her leg, that they will take a photo of her arm that they cut off and send it to me. This was their way to frighten me,” Ghais recalled.