Mass killings in the country of Syria are leading to a humanitarian crisis of global proportions, and for one man, the violence has hit home especially hard.
Dr. Ammar Alrefai immigrated from Syria to Madison more than a decade ago, but the Syrian native still has a mother and several brothers back in his homeland, with one family member already losing his life to the stunning violence.
Dr. Alrefai's younger brother was murdered by the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad last year. Alrefai told WHNT News 19 that his younger brother and sixty other men were systematically lined up and executed after attempting to deliver food and medicine to a town that was under siege from pro-Assad thugs. More than 14,000 Syrian civilians have been killed in the last year, a staggering number that may soon force the hand of world leaders.
"It was quite devastating to hear that about your own brother," said Alrefai, who practices in Madison. "These are people who have asked for freedom, and they're being attacked with helicopters, with tanks...My mother just told me there was some fighting down the street from where our house is, and there is constant sounds of bombs going off almost on a daily basis."
Dr. Alrefai said he monitors the news constantly, and skypes family members still in Syria as often as possible. He's hoping for President Obama to intervene by sending weapons or troops to Syria, a step that has yet to occur. The White House has repeatedly called for Assad to step down, while also clashing with Russia on what steps to take in order to halt the violence.
"It's very frustrating," said Alrefai. "I hate to say it, but it looks like the politics of election have taken precedence over the lives of people."