13,000 people rescued by Syrian teacher

A Syrian teacher who formed a volunteer team for search and rescue of people trapped under wreckage said the group rescued at least 13,000 people and found 9,000 bodies in the past five years of the Syrian civil war.

Bibars Meshal, 28, was a literature teacher in Aleppo but joined search and rescue operations after the war began in 2011.

Meshal said he planned to flee his country five years ago, but an incident changed his mind.

“I was helping in search and rescue work under a ruined building. Suddenly, a 1- or 2-year-old child was rescued and brought forth to me. I took the child, it was not crying just looking at me with black eyes as it was trying to tell me something,” he described.

Following the incident, Meshal changed his mind, formed a rescue unit with Syrian volunteer youth and started search and rescue works.

Meshal said his team has saved thousands of lives and witnessed thousands of deaths.

“This is a savage war. All kind of weapons, including chemical weapons, are being used here,” Meshal said and added, “Sometimes you find yourself carrying the dead body of someone whom you talked to a couple of minutes before.”

The rescue team established a wireless system that helps them to find out about any incident immediately and to reach the scene promptly, but the lack of technological equipment causes difficulty in their work.

Meshal said they did not have electronic devices to identify elements under the wreckage, so they use their hands to dig the wreckage and lift them.

He added that there were many areas in Aleppo where were bombs waiting to explode.

“More children will die in Aleppo; the war does not seem to stop soon. But if the war stops one day, all of us should be rehabilitated,” he said.

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