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Syrian FSA fighters graduate from universities after years out of school

  • January 24, 2021

Al-Monitor also met with ceremony organizer Ismail Barakat, the head of the Training Department of the Third Legion. He said that 55 fighters in the Third Legion were honored in the ceremony “after graduating at the end of 2020 from several disciplines, including graduates from the Arabic language faculties and departments, Islamic sharia, law, economics and other scientific disciplines.”

He added, “We offered the graduated fighters gifts and symbolic financial sums. We held the ceremony to thank them for their efforts, and we hope they will encourage their peers in the FSA ranks to pursue their university studies, because education is the cornerstone to developing any country, and these young people will build a free Syria. We promise to support any fighter who wants to pursue his education.”

Al-Monitor also met with Mustafa al-Khatib, a fighter in the Third Legion who graduated. He said, “Since I am an opposition figure who participated in the peaceful movement and later became a fighter in the FSA, I could not pursue my studies at the regime-affiliated University of Aleppo. I am now a fighter in the Third Legion, which helped us financially and encouraged us to pursue our studies by paying our tuition and giving us permits to attend lectures and sit the exams at the University of Aleppo in the liberated areas.”

Firas Hamasho, an officer of the education bureau in the Third Legion, told Al-Monitor, “Helping fighters receive private education allows them to understand the difficult scientific material and to attend lectures and prepare for exams. One of the key facilitations is paying the annual university tuition of the institution where the fighter is enrolled. Tuitions vary depending on the university, from $100 (300,000 Syrian pounds) to $300 (900,000 Syrian pounds) per year. The annual tuition also differs depending on the discipline.”

Imad Karsho, a fighter who graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Aleppo in the liberated areas, told Al-Monitor at the honoring ceremony in Azaz, “I had not been to any school for seven years, but in 2018, I decided to return to school and complete my education at the Faculty of Law of the University of Aleppo affiliated with the opposition in Aleppo. Indeed, I was able to fulfill my dream.”

He added, “I tried to juggle between carrying weapons and education, as I participate in battles when they break out and take exams on time. Being dedicated to fighting without receiving knowledge is one of the biggest mistakes. We cannot promote Syria without knowledge, and a fighter without education becomes a scoundrel.”

Ahmed Raslan is a fighter who was in his fourth year of studying at the Faculty of Information Engineering, specializing in software engineering, at the regime’s University of Aleppo when Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011.

He told Al-Monitor, “I had to drop out because all of my family members were threatened with arrest. We could not enter the regime-controlled areas in Aleppo, and I later joined the FSA.” Seven years later, Raslan returned to complete his education at the University of Aleppo in the liberated areas and received a degree in informatics engineering.

Abdul Hakim al-Masri, the minister of finance and economy in the opposition-led interim government, told Al-Monitor, “As we know, the fighter must be educated, because education alters their way of thinking and conduct. The initiative of the FSA factions and their support for their fighters in returning to education is a great step. It is also important to employ these graduates in suitable positions for their specializations to have a trained and educated army.”

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