Syria: Jihadist marries online lovebirds

2013-01-25 15:34
Yusef (R) and Ghada pose in a street after getting married in the Sukkari district of Aleppo. (JM Lopez, AFP)

Yusef (R) and Ghada pose in a street after getting married in the Sukkari district of Aleppo. (JM Lopez, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Aleppo - Yusef and Ghada met through Facebook, and with all of the courts in Syria's war-ravaged second city of Aleppo closed, they had no choice but to exchange vows before a jihadist commander.

"It was a very quick ceremony. We signed a paper, exchanged rings, and we were married. The commander [also a Muslim sheikh] was too busy to waste time on us reading verses from the Koran," Yusef, aged 26, says with a laugh.

The marriage between the rebel fighter, who also works as a fixer for foreign journalists, and his 33-year-old lover brought some respite to Aleppo's the battered, opposition-held southwestern district of Sukkari.

Celebrating the occasion, AK-47 assault rifles were fired into the air by the rebels who are fighting to oust the regime of President Bashar Assad.

"Congratulations! May God bring you lots of children," one of them cheers as the groom's friends dances in circles around the newly weds.

"We can't let war dictate our lives. We don't know when this war will finish. It could be a few months, or it might be five or 10 years. Do I have to wait till then to continue living?" says Yusef.


Separated from her family by enemy lines, none of Ghada's relatives were able to make it to the wedding, and it took her months to secure their blessing.

"My father has always supported Assad, and when we first got together, I tried to hide the fact Yusef was fighting for the [rebel] Free Syrian Army," says Ghada, an English literature graduate.

Ghada's father eventually found a photograph showing Yusef wearing military clothing, and prohibited her from seeing or even speaking to him again.

But Yusef, who studied marketing at university, invited Ghada's family to the rebel-held area he was living in.

"I invited Ghada's parents to show them that the rebels aren't terrorists, as the regime wants them to think," says Yusef.

"They realised that life here is much better than in regime-held territory, despite the bombing of course."

Love of cats

Ghada and Yusef's story is rife with all the twists and turns of the conflict, which broke out in March 2011 when the regime launched a bloody crackdown on peaceful democracy protests.

They met online via one of hundreds of Facebook pages set up by Syrian activists opposed to the Assad regime.

"Yusef and I started chatting because my Facebook profile picture was an image of a little cat. He likes cats," says Ghada.

Their love blossomed despite the division of Aleppo into pro- and anti-regime areas, says the rebel fighter.

"We have only seen each other four times. She lives in a regime-held area of the city, and if I go there, I'll be killed because I joined the rebels," he says.

"Most of the time, it's too dangerous for her to come here, so we've spent the past seven months chatting online and on the phone."

Dreams of peace

Now, the young couple look forward to having at least two children together, though each has a different feeling about what the future may hold, depending on the outcome of the conflict.

"I want my children to help fight in the war, or to rebuild the country" should the conflict end, Yusef says with pride.

But Ghada only dreams of peace.

"I want the war to end as quickly as possible, so that we can start a real life together, side by side with my husband and our children."

With battles raging not too far away, the bride expressed fears the family might have to flee and join hundreds of thousands of others who have sought refuge abroad.

"I don't want to leave Syria. But I might eventually change my mind because I want to do what's best for the family," says Ghada.

"But we're still a long way away from all that. Deep down, what I want is to build a new country where our children can live happily."

Read more on:    bashar assad  |  syria  |  syria conflict  |  uprisings

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


For the love of Corgis!

WATCH: 35 Corgi's to make your day! If they’re good enough for the Queen of England they’re good enough for us.



Can we communicate with our pets?
8 great natural remedies for your pet
Buying a puppy? Don’t get scammed!
WATCH: These funny animal videos will make you LOL!
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.