During the chaos which was the liberation of East Aleppo in December 2016, a story went viral on the internet, as well as mainstream TV news in America and elsewhere. It involved a tragic story of a woman dying in a wheelchair, as her heartbroken husband pushed her in her wheelchair looking for medical help on one of the last days of civilian evacuation from there.
It would have gone unnoticed to me, except for the fact that we knew the woman’s sister, and she was with my family daily as they were calling various aid agencies, and officials in the hope of getting her safely out of East Aleppo, and delivered to her daughter living in West Aleppo.
My family lives in Latakia, and Wedad was an internally displaced person (IDP) from East Aleppo. Wedad and her husband had come to rent a house in Latakia in 2015 as their home area had been occupied by armed militias.
Wedad had met a woman in Latakia, who was likewise an IDP; however, this woman was from Damascus. Wedad was shocked when the other woman related how her area in Damascus had never been occupied by militias, because the residents had armed themselves with guns, and had physically prevented the occupation of their homes. However, in the end the area was bombed by the militias, so they had to leave for the safety of the coast.
Wedad sat incredulous after hearing that the civilians prevented the occupation by the terrorists. She had never considered self-defense as an option which could have prevented the loss of her home. It then dawned on her, the realization that they had allowed the terrorists to come in: they had not fought back. Wedad took to saying this over and over, as if learning a great truth for the first time: “We let them come in.”
Wedad had many siblings; some who lived in the safety of West Aleppo, and others who were in the terrorist controlled East Aleppo. She also had extended family members living as refugees in Turkey and Germany, and a sister who was also living in Latakia as an IDP.
She kept in daily contact through her cell phone with many relatives. She had also lost some siblings who had died due to the war: a sister died in West Aleppo after her home was attacked by a mortar having been fired by the terrorists in East Aleppo at the residential areas on the other side of the city. Also dead was a sister who died during a bombing raid over East Aleppo. Both sides of the conflict caused suffering, with civilians being caught in the middle.
Wedad was especially concerned about an older sister who living in East Aleppo with her husband. Her children were grown adults, and were living in several areas. Some of her sons were working with the terrorists, while others had fled the conflict zone and were refugees. Wedad’s sister was Sabah Mohammed, and her husband was Abu Mohammed. Sabah had been handicapped for many years from a degenerative bone condition which affected her hips. She had been mobile enough to get up and go to the bathroom on her own, but most of the time she was bed ridden.
The house they lived in was partially damaged from bombings. The water tank on the roof, which would supply the house with water via faucets, was damaged to the point they no longer had running water. Sabah’s husband was bringing water to the house occasionally in plastic bottles. Winter in Aleppo is bitterly cold, and they had no heating or electricity. Sabah stayed covered up in blankets and quilts most of the time in bed. However, she became desperate for a bath. This longed for bath is what led to her death.
One day in later November 2016, Sabah decided she couldn’t take it any longer; she wanted to have a bath. Regardless of the cold, and having to use cold water, she was determined to feel clean. She got herself to the bathroom and using a bucket and wash rag and soap she gave herself a very cold bath. She got back to bed and covered up, but the shock of the cold, and her poor health due to poor food and lack of enough water to drink, caused her to become immobile, as if she was frozen. She had lost her ability to move and get up. She was trapped in bed, but alive. At this point Sabah was talking to both her sister Wedad, and her own daughter in West Aleppo, and telling them she really did need to be evacuated to the safety of West Aleppo.
During the first weeks of December, it became apparent that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) would soon be inside East Aleppo in full scale liberation of the civilian population. My family called Fares Shehabi, the President of the Aleppo Chamber of Industry, and he advised them to phone the Syrian Red Crescent. They discussed Sabah’s evacuation with them and they said they could not enter East Aleppo, but if her husband would push her to the area which was designated the exit route for civilians fleeing, the SAA would see to her evacuation and transport via ambulance to the humanitarian relocation center which had been prepared, with food, water and medical services.
On the day of her escape from East Aleppo, her husband was pushing her through the streets and was photographed by foreign journalists who were in East Aleppo illegally in company of the armed terrorists. In other words, these media professionals from USA and elsewhere, were in East Aleppo having coming in from Turkey under with Al Qaeda linked terrorists, for the purpose of telling the ‘opposition’ side of the story, which is a one-sided story . In journalism, one of the key principals must be to tell the story from both sides, and without bias. However, the mainstream western media have consistently been embedded with the armed terrorists, and thus the story the western audience is hear only reports half of the story. Sabah’s photo appeared in many western media; however, the facts given in the story were lies. The media said she had died in her wheelchair from lack of medical care. This was a completely untrue, and was fabricated in order to fit perfectly into the western mainstream media narrative of the suffering civilians of East Aleppo. They made sure the blame for her death was the Syrian government. However, she did not die.
In the end, her husband saw the SAA and pushed her forward to the point they could retrieve her. He then turned around and ran back deeper into East Aleppo and remained in the terrorist’s inner sanctum. He was later evacuated with the terrorists to Idlib.
Sabah was found by her son in law at the relocation center, and he took her home. She was reunited with her daughter, who sprang into action cleaning, feeding and caring for her mother. She lived her last days in peace with her daughter and grand children surrounding her in West Aleppo. Finally, the years of suffering under the oppression and occupation by Radical Islamic terrorists took its toll and she died.
I had asked by cell phone of Sabah if the White Helmets had helped her. At first she had no idea what I referred to. Then, after I explained further what group I was referring to, she replied, “Oh, you mean the video guys? Oh no, they do not help anyone, they just make videos.”
One of her sons had refused to participate with the Free Syrian Army inside East Aleppo. Because of his refusal, he was placed in their prison. He stayed 2 years in prison until at the last moment in December 2016, when the terrorists knew they had lost and were leaving, they opened the doors and let him and others escape. He then came out to the SAA and surrendered himself to their check point. He was immediately drafted into the SAA and sent to basic training, to fulfill his national duty. Within weeks he was telling his relatives by cell phone he was stationed near Hama, and they were fighting Jibhat al Nusra there. He died there, having been killed by a sniper of Jibhat al Nusra.