Monday 18 March 2013

Champ Rania, nurse Asma and sniper Umm Jaafar

Chess champion and dentist Rania Abassi

The fate and whereabouts of Syrian dentist and women’s chess champion for many years, Dr. Rania Abassi, her husband and their six children remains unknown after security services took them from their Damascus home last week.
Men believed to belong to the military security branch took Rania’s husband, Aburrahman el-Yassin (Abu Ahmad), from home after ransacking it on March 9.
They returned two days later, March 11, and picked up Rania and the couple’s six children: Dima (14), Intissar (11), Najah (9), Wala’ (8), Ahmad (4) and baby daughter Layan (12 months).
Nothing has been heard of the family since.
Dr. Rania, who won national, Arab and Mediterranean chess championships over the years, is still ranked Syria’s number one woman chess player by the World Chess Federation.
Ghada Ouwais interviewing Asma in Aleppo
Aljazeera TV anchorwoman Ghada Owais is currently in Aleppo doing a series of video features on Syria’s two years of revolt. Last night’s focused on what two young women are doing to help the rebels.
One -- speaking as “Asma”  -- is a volunteer nurse in a makeshift field hospital in a rebel held area of Aleppo.
Owais: Having read Arts at university, why choose nursing?
Asma: We were ready to give our lives for the revolution from day one. When the Free Syrian Army entered Aleppo, most doctors fled. The medical cadres also left. We had to fill in for them, and we did.
Owais: Do you have what you need here to treat patients and the wounded?
Asma: No.
Owais: You’re short of what?
Asma: Everything – equipment, medicines, even bandages. Everything.
Owais: Are you scared?
Asma: No. I am not scared. We fear for the country only…

Sniper Umm Jaafar and husband Mahmoud
After taking leave from the field hospital, Owais says Aljazeera reporter Tamer al-Miss’hal, who is helping her on the Aleppo mission, will take over to introduce “Umm Jaafar.”
Walking viewers through narrow Aleppo alleyways, Tamer says, “The last word on this battlefront is for snipers. Each side tries to prevent the other side’s advance by positioning snipers on rooftops. Here is one of them – a special one. Her name is Noor, but she prefers to be called Umm Jaafar. She has changed.  After owning and running a beauty salon in Aleppo, she is now a seasoned sniper.”
Umm Jaafar: Bashar forced this on us. I was among his supporters until he started the massacres and set about killing children and dumping bodies in the river.”
An incident on an Aleppo street led to her wedding to Mahmoud seven months ago.
Shrapnel from a tank shell outside her home hit Mahmoud. She helped him. They fell in love. They’ve been husband and wife and fighting side by side for seven months.
Tamer: But who’s the boss?
Mahmoud: In the battalion, she is one of the fighters.
Umm Jaafar: You can say that at home I command a brigade while he commands a battalion!