‘I’m heartbroken that Britain has ruled out taking action in Syria’

Muhammad, Ebrahim's cousin who was killed in the fighting in Syria.
Muhammad, Ebrahim's cousin who was killed in the fighting in Syria.

A city teenager living in fear for his relatives in Syria has spoken of his fury at the world “turning a blind eye” to the country’s escalating crisis.

Ebrahim, 18, who was born in Syria but moved to the UK aged three, said he was heartbroken Parliament blocked Prime Minister David Cameron’s call to take potential military action against the country’s government.

The regime is alleged to have killed 1,400 civilians in a chemical attack and thousands more by shelling population areas during anti-government protests since March 2011.

They include Ebrahim’s cousin Muhammad, who was shot dead aged just 18. Many of his other relatives are living in refugee camps as the crisis deepens.

Ebrahim, a Ripley St Thomas CE Academy pupil, from Oakville Road, Heysham, described the use of chemical weapons as “completely disgusting”.

Ebrahim, whose surname we are withholding to protect his relatives, said: “Thousands of young men are giving their lives and the world continues to watch – it’s a massive disappointment.”

Continued shelling of the country’s largest city, Aleppo, by President Bashar Hafez al-Assad’s forces spurred Muhammad into leaving university and joining the Free Syrian Army.

He was fatally gunned down in recent fighting.

Ebrahim, a former Heysham High School student, said: “He took up arms to protect his family. He wasn’t a soldier, just a normal person who saw it as a moral obligation. We’re very proud of him.

“He gave up everything. It’s heart-breaking that Britain has ruled out military action.

“My cousin’s university was bombed and about 200 students died. He saw arms on the floor and bodies that didn’t look like bodies. The whole city has been destroyed.

“There are even attacks on bakeries. Some say military action isn’t the way to respond but I think it’s the only way.

“Assad has used chemical weapons on his own people and destroyed cities. You can’t get any dialogue with this man.

“Initially, people didn’t want regime change, they wanted reform. Then, when their protests were met with bullets, tanks and bombs they thought ‘these people were meant to protect us, not kill us’.”

Around 110,000 people, many civilians including children, have died in the conflict.

Four million people have been displaced and two million are living as refugees.

Among them, Ebrahim’s grandmother, uncles and aunts who fled to the Turkish border, where they cook on a fire, have no electricity and grow their own food in a daily struggle for survival.

They fled Aleppo, where around 12,000 people are estimated to have died.

Ebrahim visited them in the city in July 2011, just as tensions in the region were mounting. They keep in touch via the internet and smartphone.

Although their new location is safer, he explained they had to take regular cover from bombing fighter jets.

He said: “It’s always on my mind. My little cousin says it’s just like fireworks but it’s haunting to think that they will actually land on someone’s home and kill people.”

Ebrahim has lived in Heysham for six years with mother and father Roula and Ahmad, brothers Karim, 16, Nwa, 14, Aladdin, 13, nine-year-old Sladdin and sister Aya, 11.

He has raised £2,000 for Syrian refugees and last year presented a petition to Downing Street with fellow Heysham High School pupils calling on the Government to intervene.

He said it was difficult to predict the country’s future and hopes US President Barack Obama steps in.

“If America doesn’t intervene, the world will just turn a blind eye like it has for the last two years.

“I want Assad out, I think he knows the end is coming.”

Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw and Morecambe and Lunesdale MP David Morris supported the potential military action but the motion was beaten by 13 votes after last week’s House of Commons debate.

Opposing MPs argued there was no solid evidence Assad was responsible for the chemical attack and said military intervention could make matters worse.

Mr Morris said David Cameron had personally told him there would be no second vote on the issue.

He said: “I don’t agree with Parliament’s vote but I respect it. We should be part of sorting this problem out.

“Assad will carry on killing his own people.”