The history of the war in Syria is not being written by guns, bombs, and metal machines, it is written by people – people who once had their own dreams, goals and ambitions, but who put them aside for the sake of one common dream: to see peace in their country.
Sputnik spoke with five young servicemen from the Syrian Army, asking them about their hopes and dreams for when the brutal war which has plagued their country for over five years finally comes to an end.
An Education, No Matter the Cost
Hamza Ismail, a 26-year-old soldier from Hama province, last saw his family three years ago. Since then, he has been living with his new 'family' – ten trained soldiers of the Syrian army, who share the common vision of liberating the country from the terrorists.
"As soon as I graduated, I immediately joined the army. I wanted to pursue a masters degree, and then to enroll in doctoral studies. But my nation is more important to me. Our circumstances have forced us to set priorities in life," Hamza explained.
The young man sees his future as a husband and a father to a large family; he wants to work in a private bank, and to continue to live in Syria. The soldier vows that he will complete his studies no matter the cost, and will get the degrees he set his sights on before the war. In the meantime, the war demands his full attention.
War Did Not Allow Me to Bury My Father
Tammam Maala, an engineer by profession came to know the smell of the earth in the trenches, and the feel of dust thrown up by exploding shells from the first days of the war. In 2010, he received his degree in civil engineering; a year later, armed conflict broke out across his country. Since then, his weapon became his inseparable companion on the battlefield.
Tammam was severely wounded several times. The army's command advised him to leave the front lines for health reasons, but he refused.
"I returned to the front again and again. While I have been here, at war, so much has happened with my family. The worst thing was my father's death; I was not able to come for his funeral. For me it is a great wound that I was not able to say goodbye to my father. The words he told me the last time we met, when he squeezed my hand in his, console me; 'I'm proud that my son is among our country's heroes', he said."
Like the rest of his squad, Tammam dreams of peace falling over Syria, which would allow him to find internal peace and start thinking about a family. "I dream of naming my son after my father, to extinguish the fire in my heart," the soldier said.
Dreaming of Peace and Family
28-year-old Mohammed Ammar, from Tartus, is an accountant by profession, but now also a veteran of the army, who volunteered to fight to protect his home country as soon as conflict broke out.
"I tried first to join the volunteers, but they rejected me without any clear explanation. But in the end I was accepted into the reserve, where I tried to work in the army according to my specialty. But the war intensified, and we were all sent to the front, where everyone is equal, no matter one's education and specialization."
Mohammed's dream too, he said, is to create a family. For this dream, he is willing to wait, and to fight.
'We Live By the Thought of Victory'
Adnan Al-Ahmad dreams of a time when his mother will believe in tomorrow. Like families across the country, Adnan's family waits for the return of their hero safe and sound. Before the war, Adnan studied to be a lawyer.
"For me, the most frustrating thing was to see many Syrians on social networks writing such heroic posts and slogans, while many of them fled the war to the warm shores of Western countries," Adnan said.
"Life in our country had turned into one big ruin, and the streets were filled with the photographs of the fallen heroes. We live by the thought of victory," he added.
After the war, Adnan wants to continue his studies.
'War Does Not Allow Us To Dream of Anything But Peace'
Mohammed Al-Akkar is 30 years old; he has a wife and a child, and worked as a manager in a successful restaurant before the war.
"I made the decision to defend our country. I left my wife and daughter, whose eyes I could never get enough of. The days had arrived when all our dreams were destroyed for the sake of one single dream: peace in the country," Mohammed said.
On the front, Mohammed stays in touch with his wife and daughter on a cellphone to tell them that he's alive and well.
"Sometimes when I call home, I think to myself 'what if this is the last time I hear their voices?'…But then I immediately cast out these thoughts and feelings. Yes, destruction and murder have invaded all our lives, but we live in anticipation of the day when we can return home and see our families. The war does not allow us to dream of anything else," the soldier concluded.