Syrian Refugees Share Stories of Survival


Two Syrian refugees who survived the Aug. 21 chemical attack spoke with WUFT on the brutality they witnessed in their country.

Hiba Sawan and Mohamed Khir Alwazir, who are both from neighborhoods outside of Damascus, recently fled Syria, which has been at war for three years in March. They are now traveling around the United States to tell their stories. They visited the University of Florida on Feb. 10.

According to the Associated Press there were at least 100,000 deaths from Syria’s civil war as of July. The United Nation’s human rights office has since stated that it can no longer confirm the death toll.

Sawan described Aug. 21 as “doomsday.”

As she and her cousin arrived at a local hospital to help, overcome with dizziness, Sawan said she saw thousands of women and men on the ground who had suffocated.

“It was horror,” Sawan said. “I can’t forget that view.”

Sawan said she lost some of her cousins and friends on that day.

Alwazir said growing up in Syria he had grown used to seeing destruction. He said he had witnessed 10 other chemical attacks, but this one was the worst.

“It seemed like these were people spraying pesticide, and all these corpses that were lying down were just pests that fell,” Alwazir said.

Alwazir said his journey out of Syria was discreet. He said it took him about a month to get from Duma to Turkey.

Sawan said it took her 15 days to get to Lebanon.

The message that Sawan said she hopes people take away from her and Alwazir’s tour is that the issues in Syria go beyond chemical attacks, that people were dying before these attacks and after in more “painful and difficult” ways.

Alexandra Parish contributed to this report.

About Alexandra Parish

Alexandra is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing

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