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Ranks of Syrian War Widows Grow As Rebels Are Killed Off

As the number of female-led households grows in Syria, the LA Times’s Raja Abdulrahim, in Anadan, speaks to widowed women.

Written by Raja Abdulrahim / Los Angeles Times Published on Read time Approx. 1 minutes

Ahlam sits hunched over, as if about to fold in on herself, talking about her courtship with her husband.

At first she was hesitant to accept his proposal because he was a rebel fighter. But as they talked and spent time together, she grew fond of him and they were married last summer. For the next eight months, he divided his time between home with his new bride and the battlefront in Syria’s civil war.

Each time he went to the front lines, Ahlam, 23, would call frequently to make sure he was OK. One day in March, her mind was with him all day and she couldn’t focus on anything she was doing. She called him every hour. Finally, he answered.

“I told him, ‘Take care of yourself,’” she said. “He said, ‘Forgive me if something happens.’”

Shortly after they spoke, he was killed in combat.

“I was afraid he would die, and then look what happened,” she said quietly. “I would tell him not to go — that there is work to be done in the village. He would say, ‘I can’t; there is work at the front lines.’”

Now Ahlam vows not to remarry until the fighting ends for fear of being widowed again. She is like other young widows, many with pregnant bellies, who bitterly shrug off the suggestion of remarriage with a bleak, “I’ve learned my luck.”

“I don’t want the same thing to happen to me,” said Ahlam, whose two younger brothers are also rebel fighters. “I foresee that they’re all going to get killed. I don’t think many of them will return.”

The above is an excerpt. You can read the full story at

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