Seven White Helmet volunteers were assassinated in Sarmin, Idlib on Saturday. Each man lived and died serving others and their stories follow below. These stories were collected from their teammates in Idlib and shared with the following message:
“You made our eyes full of tears and broke our hearts with your tragic deaths. In your memory we write stories of your love, loyalty and sacrifice, stories to tell to generations after generations.”
Mohammad Dib Al-Harr
Mohammad Dib Al-Harr’s courage earned him the nickname ‘Abu Kifah’ (Kifah means struggle).
Abu Kifah was a tiler before the revolution. When the bombs began to hit Sarmin he started monitoring and recording airstrikes before joining the White Helmets in 2015, volunteering alongside his brother who had been there since the establishment of the centre.
Abu Kifah was a lifesaver who took part in countless rescue missions. He became famous after footage of him saving a little baby girl from under the rubble of bombs went viral around the world. At that moment he entered the hearts of thousands.
Abu Kifah was brave, in October 2015 a ‘vacum bomb’ hit the City of Sarmin hospital and Abu Kifah and his colleagues rushed to the site; shortly after that the warplanes returned for a ‘double-tap’ strike on the rescue effort. Yet not even that injury he could stop him from saving lives and he took part in many more rescue missions.
Abu Kifah was a good man who inspired his colleagues, was devoted to his wife and his religion. He told colleagues that he dreamed that the little baby girl he rescued ‘Wahida’ would tell her children and grandchildren about the work of the White Helmets that saved her life.
Ziad Hassan Qadhanoun
Ziad Hassan Qadhanoun was a father to many — he had one son and 4 daughters and was also a father to his 11 brothers after his own father was killed. Ziad was a builder and worked hard to provide for everyone.
Ziad believed in democracy and human rights and when the revolution started he was among the first demonstrators who took to the streets in Sarmin. As the revolution descended into war those beliefs led him to work in a field relief centre, and when the White Helmets centre was established in Sarmin he was one of the first people to volunteer.
Ziad was a thousand men in one: a life-saver, a firefighter, and a paramedic. Nothing was out of reach for him when it came to serving civilians and he would do anything and everything to help. All his fellow volunteers loved him for this dedication.
Ziad was injured multiple times in the line of duty. The most serious of these injuries in March 2015 when chlorine gas was dropped on Sarmin and he rushed to the scene of the attack to treat people, his rescue effort was struck by a second attack on the same site.
Ziad loved all the people of Syria. When civilians were displaced from Daraya, Madaya, and Zabadani to Idlib he founded the Noor Al-Madina volunteer team to serve and assist by providing housing and essential supplies.
Abdulrazzak Hassan Haj Khalil
Abdulrazzak Hassan Haj Khalil was a father. He had lived in Sarmin for all of his 24 years and was raising his two children there with his wife.
Abdulrazzak was a builder — he had been a student but could not afford to continue so moved into construction. He started volunteering with the White Helmets in 2016 and loved it, the work brought him great joy.
Abdulrazzak was known by his colleagues for his kindness and generosity. He loved cooking and singing, and he’d often do both at once. People would come to the White Helmets centre to hear his voice and eat his delicious food.
Abdulrazzak was a friend. He was not due to be working the shift that was attacked but he changed his shift to be on duty with his friends Ziad Qadhanoun and Abu Kifah. They were neighbours and friends at work and they became friends under the soil, nothing could separate them, even death.
Bassel was a father of two children, Nour and Mustafa, who he raised with his wife in Sarmin.
Bassel was teacher. He had studied Arabic literature at the University of Aleppo and returned to Sarmin to teach children and young people. When not teaching Bassel’s other passion was fixing electronics and eventually he opened a electrical repair show.
Bassel was known as a good listener and was loved by the people of Sarmin. When the Syrian revolution started Bassel was joined to fight against the corruption and for freedom.
Bassel was one of the first volunteers to join the White Helmets when the centre opened in Sarmin. His work focussed on documenting the the work of the team and the impact of the air strikes. He was quickly asked to become the Head of the Centre which he accepted. However, he wanted to be out on the rescues and directly working with civilians so he joined rescue operations and also led awareness campaigns on the impact of unexploded weapons.
Hamza was the main provider for his family after his father was killed. In addition to looking after his family Hamza was due to start his own family with his wife expecting a baby.
Hamza didn’t give up after he was forcibly displaced from the city of Homs — one of the areas hit hardest by Syria’s brutal aerial war. While there he drove the heavy rescue vehicles and responded to countless attacks as Homs was shown no mercy by the Syrian regime. No matter what was needed: driving, rescue work, fire-fighting people would call on Hamza.
Hamza was one of the last to leave his neighbourhood in Homs after its residents were forced to accept their displacement. When he arrived in Sarmin he set about his White Helmet work with the same determination he was known for in Homs.
Mohammad Omar Shabib, also known as Zeido, was a driver. When the revolution started he would drive around picking up flour so everyone could have bread. And when the White Helmets centre opened in Sarmin along with some friends he volunteered his driving skills. When he wasn’t driving a firetruck or bulldozers he would back the centre maintaining vehicles with a joke and a good word for everyone.
Mohammed was a husband and father to four children. After his brother’s death he took on looking after his family too spending everything he had on those he loved. He was 34 years old when killed.
Obaida was a young man — just 20 years old.
Obaida was from Khalidiya neighbourhood in Homs where he worked in a factory. Because of the heavy bombing targeting his neighbourhood, Obaida and his family had to leave their home and move to Al Waer neighbourhood.
Upon arrival to Al Waer, Obaida joined the White Helmets to help the people. He was injured several times on rescue missions but they didn’t stop him from returning to work to save lives. After years of starvation sieges and aerial attacks on Al Waer, Obaida was displaced a second time to Sarmin in Idlib. He joined the White Helmets centre there and was loved by all his teammates. He continued to save lives until his own was taken, and was buried far from his home.
Obaida was an only child and had not yet married.
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