The Lion of Ghouta

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This film is about the life of Mohammad Mahmoud Ali, a Syrian army commander, who was killed fighting against terrorist groups in this country.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “I’m Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife. My father was a military man. We were brought up in Damascus. I got to know Mohammad Ali when I was in guidance school. I was 13 years old when I first met Mohammad and he was a military officer with the rank of first lieutenant.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Salmo Mahmoud Ali, Sister of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “It was when he had recently graduated from university. He had just become a first lieutenant. He was deployed to Damascus. He got to know his wife there through my cousin.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “One year, they came to visit us on Eid al-Adha and he saw me in that ceremony. Since he was a real gentleman and had good intentions, he proposed to me right there and then. I was very surprised because I didn’t know him and it was the first time I saw him. Then he left to return with his family.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Salmo Mahmoud Ali, Sister of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “We were brought up in a very simple family, a hard-working family. We all lived together, liked each other and worked together. We were nine kids and lived through hard times. It was a tough situation!”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Brother of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “Their family had 11 members, including the parents.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Salmo Mahmoud Ali, Sister of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “My late father was a government employee, but his income back then wasn’t enough for nine people to live a comfortable life. We told him that it was too early for marriage and that he had to wait although they were engaged.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “Thank God he was nice enough to accept it. We gradually got to know each other and started our life together.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Salmo Mahmoud Ali, Sister of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “It was God’s will for these two people to meet one another despite one being here and the other in Damascus.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “And after marriage we fell in love. I loved him more by the day and the bond between us grew stronger each day.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Salmo Mahmoud Ali, Sister of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “He always worked a lot and grabbed every good opportunity that came his way. There was a time that he rented a poultry shop. He and my cousin used to work there in their free time. He always went to work when he could to save some money to build a house, get married with the one he loves and take his bride home. He always wanted to give his utmost attention.”

TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Salmo Mahmoud Ali, Sister of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “Finally after three or four years our first child Suleiman, who we named after my late father-in-law, was born. Our second child was a girl and three years later our second daughter, who is our third child, was born. He usually chose the children’s name himself, but I named our last son Ahmad.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ahmad Mohammed Ali, Son of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “Dad loved me a lot. He loved me more than he loved his other children. He always wanted me to study well and be the top student in class.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ghenwah Mohammed Ali, Daughter of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “I sometimes felt that he loves me more. But he was such a kind and loving person that everyone thought dad loved them more than the others.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “He did everything at home regardless of whether it’s a man or woman’s job. He really loved his family and home. But there were a number of things he felt ashamed to do, like giving others presents and things like that. He always told me to get what I liked and I used to tell him I want you to choose it. He used to say, “I honestly don’t know how to do that!”

Once when he still didn't have a car and used to return home by bus, he brought me a flower, but he had blushed and his face was redder than the flower in his hand! He said he felt very ashamed of holding the flower on the bus. Then he started laughing and said, “Are you satisfied with that?” Our relationship was in such a way that I never felt that he was a military officer. I mean he was a very simple and loving person.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Salmo Mahmoud Ali, Sister of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “My dad used to choose Mohammad when he wanted to do something hard or needed help in doing something difficult because Mohammad was strong-hearted.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ghenwah Mohammed Ali, Daughter of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “Dad used to tell me that he was a shepherd and took the sheep grazing. He used to take his book along and study. When he grew older, he used to go stone cutting with my grandfather.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Salmo Mahmoud Ali, Sister of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “Cutting stones from the mountains needs strength and a strong heart, and Mohammad was always daring since childhood.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “In the beginning, our financial situation wasn't that good, but he managed to make life better with the efforts he put in. Thank God he did something for us to never have to rely on anyone but Allah.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Hani Eskandar: “I was by his side since the very first day he entered military university. He had taken an oath to be a faithful servant of God and the Syrian Republic.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ali Younis: “All those who knew, or didn't personally know Mohammad Ali, liked him. Everyone had heard his name. I'd heard a lot about him before knowing him in person.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Hani Eskandar: “He was a distinguished person since the time he entered military university.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ali Younis: “And with his boldness, he managed to get a high rank. Mohammad Ali was a pioneer at military university. He was an example of moral values for those around him.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] The Colonel, (no name): “During our training years, Mohammad Ali was known for being spontaneous and kind. Whatever mission he was assigned to, he did it meticulously.”

TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “He was quite far away from us after the crisis started. We missed him a lot.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ghenwah Mohammed Ali, Daughter of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “After the crisis, dad changed a lot. It was just impossible to see him like he was before.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “He had to stay away from home for long periods and so the kids would get very happy when he returned. Despite all his tiredness, he used to say he prefers to hang around with them, to see them a bit more.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Naghm Mohammed Ali, Daughter of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “After the crisis began, he sometimes came over to see us for a few hours, but it would not even last a day. We would ask him to stay a bit longer so we could see him a bit more, but he would say that his work is more important.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Brother of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “Even if he went home, it was only for a few hours, not to stay for a few days or even a night. He only stayed there for a few hours and then returned to the battlefield.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Salmo Mahmoud Ali, Sister of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “He used to say, “Although I’ve become very exhausted, it's impossible for me to abandon Syria during this crisis.””

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Solomon Mohammed Ali, Son of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “Dad used to tell me that even if we all die for the sake of our country it’s not enough and that there must be other people ready to sacrifice their lives for their motherland.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “Almost a year after the crisis began. They asked him to form a Special Operations battalion. He formed the battalion and personally chose its members.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Commander Younis: “Commander Yousuf knew all the members of his battalion personally. He had always been by their side and lived with them since the battalion was formed.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “The officers who worked with Mohammad Ali always used to say he's a commander at work, but more of a brother to us on other occasions.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Commander Younis: “He had created a special sort of friendship and affection among the battalion members.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Fadi: “Me and a friend of mine who was a presidential guard were together. He told me that I was lucky to be in Mohammad Ali's battalion, and that I would experience the most wonderful days of my life. I asked him what he meant by that.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ahmad: “I remember the first time he came to see me; he looked at me and said, “Your mothers have said a prayer for you, for you to have come to me.” He told me to tell all the other military men that their mothers had prayed for them, for them to have gone to him.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Soldier: “Our battalion, which was led by him, was the best in everything … in shooting, in sports exercises and in all other fields. The other thing was that the members of our battalion had high morals because they never had this feeling that their commander was their boss.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Basel: “To us who were under his command, he was a father, commander and brother.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Soldier: “He always used to tell us to find out if the battalion members had any problems. He told us to let him know if they had any financial, personal or family difficulties.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “After the formation of the battalion and the routine exercises, they launched some major operations.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] The Voice of Ali Younis: “Mohammad Ali started the battle against terrorist groups from the surrounding areas of the Damascus International Airport.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Commander Younis: “Mohammad Ali started the battle against terrorist groups from the region around the Damascus International Airport. The situation around the airport was very bad, especially the road that led to the airport. Mohammad Ali was staying at the airport and his main concern was to maintain the security of areas around the airport as much as possible.”

TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mohammad Ali’s words: “Our brave armed forces have been doing their best to clean this area of terrorists and to destroy their hideouts. We are proceeding through this area in order to clean it up due to the efforts of our armed forces.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Hani Eskandar: “The unit operating under his command acted with honor and excellence from the very first minute it stepped into the battlefield.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ahmad: “I remember that nine people were martyred on our first mission. I went to see him and noticed that he was weeping. I said, “What should we be doing if you cry?!” He said, “Ahmad, have you ever seen a father lose his children and not cry? We are human. Each military man that's martyred is a son of mine.””

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Commander Younis: “Losing was not an option to him. I mean there might have been an interruption at times, but he truly believed in being victorious.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “I used to hear from those around him that he always moved ahead of others in order to encourage them.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ali Younis “And when troops see their own commander in the frontline, they become motivated to move forward.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Commander Younis: “We always saw him in the frontline in every battle and he led his members from there.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Soldier: “We remember many of his courageous acts. One of them was in East Ghouta in the Atiba region.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Commander Younis: “Only a few people had lost their strength, which of course is very normal at times.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Soldier: “The soldiers couldn't enter the region. Mohammad Ali got on a tank and entered the region before the others.

The tank commander got out immediately and Mohammad Ali got into the tank. But he didn't assume to sit in the tank commander's seat, he took the snipers seat instead.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Yaghoob's Voice: “And this became a motivation for the others to enter the region as well.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Soldier: “He managed to liberate the Atiba region with minimum destruction.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Hani Eskandar: “And all the fighters who've heard about the battles in East Ghouta know that.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “And he killed many of God's enemies who had no mercy on anyone.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ahmad: “It was quite usual to witness several injuries in each operation. We had a coordinating officer who was told ... for instance, if three soldiers were wounded and taken for treatment, he would say, “Go and find out what they need and have a talk with their families. If they're far from the health center there's no need for them to come over. You can provide them with whatever they need on behalf of their families.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Commander Younis: “You've seen the battles in this region. He managed to change the course of the war in the airport region and its surroundings.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ali Younis: “And this was a major achievement for this battalion to be able to secure the Shab'a region within 48 hours and kill many of the terrorists. With this operation, our heroic troops were able to fully secure the road that leads to Damascus International Airport.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Reporter: “We are close to Damascus International Airport, we haven’t faced any problem yet, the road has been safe –All this due to endeavors by the Arab Syrian Army that is trying to control the area without any incidents.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ali Younis: “With this operation, our heroic troops were able to fully secure the road to Damascus International Airport and headed to Harren- al-Awamid from Kafr Ain.”

TIME CODE: 20:00_25:00

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Unknown man: “We are now in the village of Kafr Ain in Reef that’s located on the outskirts of Damascus and is the closest village to the airport in Damascus. Before the crisis began, people in the village of Kafr Ain lived in peace and security, until armed terrorists headed toward the area and started their atrocities there. They would even loot all the bread at bakeries. They’d cut off bread supplies to residents and created a climate of fear among locals. This led many citizens to flee the village in order to protect the lives of their families. This situation continued until early December 2012 when people migrated. Later, Syrian forces led by Mohammad Ali moved into the village.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Rafaat, Soldier: “When we got here, the village was under the terrorists’ control and they’d advanced up to the levee at the end of this street and were militarily in control of the region. They constantly warned the residents to evacuate the village. We created an entrenchment to prevent them from advancing any further. And this building that you see here was the Syrian forces headquarters during the battle in Harran al-Awamid.

Then we scattered around in nearby regions and established our presence here. After that, we headed toward the East Ghouta region.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “He always wanted well for all people and thank God he always had good intentions for others.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Commander Younis: “He always wanted well for all people and thank God he always had good intentions for others. Whatever region we entered, he always took the civilians and unarmed people into consideration. Until the very last minute, he used to say, “Get a loud speaker and warn everyone so no civilians would get injured.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Unknown man: “He always urged us to resolve all problems peacefully and through dialog. He always used to say, “We shouldn’t spill the blood of these armed men if we manage to persuade them in any way to embrace their country again.””

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ahmad: “He used to tell us that we have a clear and sacred mission that God will reward – “We will fight with the enemies of God, our own enemies and the enemies of our country. They are the enemies of Syria, but civilians and unarmed people no matter where they are, in any village, house or region are our family members and should not be harmed in any way.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Unknown Colonel: “His main concern was that public and private property be kept safe and for Syria to return to the way it was prior to the conflict.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Rafaat, Soldier (Talking t an old man): “How are you?

Welcome!

I think you’re the only family that stayed here after the terrorists came to this region.

Yes, that’s right!

Remember what happened in those days! Can you remember the notices and warnings they gave people to evacuate the region?

What made you stay here and not leave?

Well to be honest, we stayed to protect our home and belongings!

Weren’t you afraid of the terrorists?

At first we were afraid that gunmen would attack us and then you came along and saved us!

Maybe because your house overlooked the whole Harran region, they chose this place as their headquarters.

Yes, when the army steps in, one feels secure but with gunmen around no one lives in peace.

Their plan was to reach this place and seize these houses so they'd be able to target the airport and close it down. This was their main aim.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Basel, Soldier: “I was walking and said, “Hello uncle.” He said, “Hello.” I asked him what he thought about Colonel Mohammad Ali? He said, “Colonel Mohammad Ali!” I asked him this out of curiosity because Colonel Mohammad Ali had taken control of the region. He said, “God save Colonel Mohammad Ali and make him victorious. He's one of God's men.” I said, “Do you know this person standing next to me? He's Colonel Mohammad Ali!” This humble old man went over to hold Mohammad Ali's hand and kiss it! Mohammad Ali didn't let him do that and instead pulled his hand forward and kissed it! He said, , Father dear, your hand should be kissed not mine!”

TIME CODE: 25:00_30:00

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Abu Fayyaz: “He would get whatever we asked for. We had no electricity and he tried to provide it. There was no water and he made all efforts to get us water. He said, “Let me know if any of the soldiers treat you badly or do anything wrong.””

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Rafaat, Soldier: “This spot overlooks the main road and the streets on the left and right lead to this road as well. A sniper had been based in a remote house at the end of this road and he fired. That bullet hit Mohammad Ali's arm.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “He went to the hospital, got his wound bandaged and then came over for us to make sure that he's okay, but he didn't stay long.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Solomon Mohammed Ali, Son of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “I used to say, “Take care of yourself, dad; and don't go to the frontline. It's not your responsibility to be in the frontline. You should stay in one place and command.” He would say, “If I don't do anything for this country and the others don't either, the country will fall. No matter how much we sacrifice for this country, it still wouldn't be enough.””

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ghenwah Mohammed Ali, Daughter of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “Once we made sure that he's okay, he said he has something to do and must leave.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Basel: “He told his wife and children that you can see I'm healthy and fine. Then he got into the car and headed for the battlefield to lead a major operation. The operation was totally successful and based on information that we received, there were an unbelievable number of terrorists in that region.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “I told him to stay a bit longer and take a short rest so he'd feel better. He said he can't and it wouldn't be right because they need him there at this time. He said he can't leave them on their own and stay longer.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Soldier: “He was only home for two hours and then he returned to the battlefield.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ali Younis: “This is the Atiba region. Heavy clashes broke out between us and the terrorist groups right here, near the mosque. This region that we're now passing through was packed with armed gunmen and mercenaries from Persian Gulf states. Mohammad Ali managed to carry out several ambushes against the terrorists in this region - the Atiba region - within a short period. We're now heading to where the ambushes happened. Let me stop the car and we'll walk to the ambush site.

By studying and observing the area, Mohammad Ali realized that terrorist groups were using this location to transport weapons and ammunition to Ghouta. The situation would have been very different from what you see now if they’d been able to clear the way for themselves. This is where one of the ambushes in this area happened. You can still see the remains of the terrorists killed here. Three other ambushes like this were carried out over there and more than 53 terrorists were targeted. Please go ahead!”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “Sometimes when he spoke to his friends about a particular subject, I would find out what he’s done. Sometimes I’d hear from others that Mohammad has done this or that. But he would never tell me anything directly himself. I later realized what they’d accomplished by watching some footage and seeing pictures.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Salmo Mahmoud Ali, Sister of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “Whenever something happened, we'd get worried and ask him, “What’s going on?” He used to laugh and say, “It’s nothing important, they’re a bunch of cowards!””

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Basel: “We went to the Jobar region and my hand was injured there, a part of it was chopped off. He came to visit me in hospital. He looked at me and said, “Should you be this upset when only a small bit of your finger’s been chopped off? You are a man, you are a hero!””

TIME CODE: 30:00_35:00

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “We are now in front of the health center in Atiba. This was an important and strategic area for the armed terrorists because they used this place to transport the weapons they'd received from Jordan and southern Syria to Ghouta and other regions in the Damascus suburbs. With the help of the Syrian army and their allies, this region was cleared of terrorists. And with God’s will, this is the first step in fully cleansing Ghouta and the Damascus suburbs.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ahmad: “I went to see him before dawn and he was dressing up in his military uniform. I said hello and asked him where he was going? He said, “We’ve planned an ambush and I have to be there.” He looked at me and said, “Take care of the kids, I’m leaving them to you.” It was the last time I saw him and those were his last words to me.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Daughter of Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “I felt that something was about to happen. I told my mother that this is the last time I'm coming here and you're not going to see me anymore.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Salmo Mahmoud Ali, Sister of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “During the two hours they were together, my mother begged him not to go. She repeatedly said, “Please don’t go!” Mohammad said mother, “Do you think I’m a coward?” My mother said, “No, I haven’t raised you in a way to be a coward.” He said, “Well should I leave or stay with you now that my country and my friends need me??”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] COLONEL Yaghoob: “After receiving adequate information about the movement of the terrorists from Jordan to Deir al-Qasab, we carried out a large ambush here. Mohammad Ali led the operation and the factory that you can see over there was the headquarters where we planned the ambush.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ali Basel: “We’ll now go to the room that was used to overlook the movement and infiltration of the terrorists into Eastern Ghouta. The colonel was praying and reciting the Qur’an here. We were sitting here with a group of friends and monitoring the terrorists’ arrival. There was a levee in their way. There were several booby traps planted at the levee. Six or seven were there.

The first booby trap didn’t go off.

The second didn’t either.

But the third booby trap exploded and many of them were killed.

And then the others went off and they all died.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Colonel Yaghoob: “Mohammad Ali insisted that we closely examine the area after the ambush that killed the terrorists who wanted to move into the region.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ali Basel: “After the ambush we left the headquarters - that same factory. We drove all the way here and got out of the car and walked to the levee where the ambush had taken place.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “He called me at a quarter past one that night. He asked how the kids and I were doing.

I said, “We’re fine thank God!” I was lying down, but I got up and sat upright. His voice sounded very unusual. He was laughing heartily, but one couldn’t tell if he was laughing or crying!”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ali Basel: “It was dark everywhere, between one thirty and two in the morning. We were just walking around here and I was moving ahead of him. He said, “Distance yourself from me! Distance yourself from me! You can’t stop death.” I was walking ahead of him. The terrorists’ bodies were scattered all around. You could see them by the levee. We moved toward the levee. Most of them were killed here, eight on the other side, a group had died over there and a third group was killed there. And a group of our friends were on the other side of the levee.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “His voice sounded very unusual. He sounded like someone who was saying goodbye, but in reality, he was happy. His laughter sounded like crying, it seemed as if he was saying goodbye and it was very meaningful.”

TIME CODE: 35:00_40:00

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Colonel Yaghoob: “When we got to this area, one of the terrorists was still alive, but played dead. Later, when the three people we'd arrested were talking together, we found out that he was the leader of this armed group. Colonel Mohammad Ali was standing in the light beam right here. I had gone to the levee and I was holding my rifle in front of me like this. When we got here, one of the commanders called Mohammad Ali and he stopped to answer the phone.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ali Basel: “I was still holding the rifle in front of me and I saw Mohammad Ali move and stand there. Suddenly, one of the terrorists held up his weapon and shot at him.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Colonel Yaghoob: “And the bullet hit his chest.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ali Basel: “I sat on the ground and started shooting at the terrorist. Then I put my weapon aside and ran toward him. I thought the bullet had hit his shoulder. I bent down and held him up. I shouted, “Sir, Sir, hang in there, don't let go!” I wanted to give him hope. When I first saw him, I thought the bullet had hit his shoulder but it had hit his heart. I just shouted, “Sir, Sir, answer me!””

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “Whenever he saw martyrs on TV, he felt like crying and used to say, “God bless his soul. God give me the chance to become a martyr as well.””

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ali Basel: “I testify there is no deity, but Allah” .... and he became silent.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Salmo Mahmoud Ali, Sister of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali:My mom's life has totally changed since Mohammad Ali' was martyred. Not a day goes by without her going to his grave and sitting there for hours and talking to him. My brother Mohammad came from the al-Sahel region in Syria - a child from these

high mountains. But where was he martyred? In Ghouta in Damascus. He was martyred to save the sovereignty of Syria, its honorable people, and all its children that will grow up someday.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Nabal Yousuf, Mohammad Ali’s wife: “He valued his country, enough to believe that one should sacrifice his life for it. There would be nothing left of this country if these honorable heroes weren't there to sacrifice the most precious thing in their lives. God willing, our country will stand. Thank God my kids are very good and really love their father. I’m sure they will appreciate his goodness and we will continue with our lives as he desired.”

TIME CODE: 40:00_42:23

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Daughter of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “Although I go to his grave and say prayers for him, I just can’t believe that he’s gone. I just can't believe it! My dream is for him to come back so I can see him again.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Daughter of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “After dad was martyred, my mother cried a lot. I told her that I was upset because I didn’t get the chance to see him enough. Up to this age, I just never saw my father enough.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Solomon Mohammed Ali, Son of Martyr Mohammed Mahmud Ali: “Syria is our motherland. We wouldn’t be here if Syria didn't exist. It’s true that people like my father lost their lives … but still there are people who are willing to liberate this country.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Ahmad: “We will defeat them.No one can invade our country.

This is our country and we won’t allow anyone to take it away from us.”

   

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