Christians in exile: Syrians take refuge in Lebanon

Tony Yousef has a heart problem. The former government worker pulled open his shirt to show the long, faded scar on his chest from bypass surgery. He talked vehemently about the Syrian rebels who destroyed his way of life in Syria’s northeastern Hassakeh Province, forcing him to leave the country six months ago.

“We had no water, no electricity, everything was bombed,” said Yousef, 62. “The rebels were taking all the supplies being brought in by the government. They routed the trucks to sell in Turkey. I saw it with my own eyes,” he said. He tugged at his dark leather jacket. “I came to Lebanon only with this.”

Yousef is joined by his sister-in-law, Sara Hanna, a thin, nervous-looking woman who expressed her fear of kidnappings by the Free Syrian Army, a major rebel group. Syrian president Bashar Assad “was good to the Christians. We had freedom, and he protected us,” she stated. “The FSA are the bad people, and the ‘revolution’ is a conspiracy.”