Looking back on my story, I wonder how we ended up here in Germany, hundreds of kilometres from a city that was home and our family that is no longer in the same place. I’m from the city of Mohassan in Deir Ezzour, which we call ‘the village’, and that is how it remains in my eyes. A beautiful calm village before we heard about ISIS and before they announced the Caliphate. 

My name is Yasmine Mashaan and I worked for 12 years in the pharmacy of the Euphrates Hospital. I come from a big family and I’m the only girl among six brothers. I have three older brothers and three younger, and as the middle one, I felt a sense of motherhood towards my younger siblings.

When the Syrian revolution began, my family felt as if we’d been waiting for that moment all our lives and we knew it required courage. We participated in demonstrations, aid support and all possible non-violent activism. But when the Syrian regime reacted with violence, we faced the tragic loss of four of my brothers. By 2014, my siblings were only Quataiba, my eldest brother, Bashar, my youngest brother, and I. Around that time, ISIS announced its Caliphate and it was expanding to Deir Ezzor.   

Bashar was still a groom and his wife had become pregnant. My parents were worried about Bashar and Qutaiba and they didn’t want Bashar to do anything or go outside. But one day Bashar heard a call for help from the people in the neighbourhood who were fighting ISIS and he rushed out. His blood group was O- which is rare and there was a need for blood and to evacuate the wounded. 

I remember the date very well, it was the 15th of May 2014. Since that day, we have heard nothing firm about Bashar’s disappearance. All news is vague. Some people say that Bashar was evacuating the wounded and ISIS caught him, slaughtered him, and threw his body into the river. Some people say ISIS threw a bomb and Bashar was hit in the chest. Some people say ISIS arrested him. All we know is that Bashar disappeared and six years later we are still left without answers.  

Sometimes I wonder if I might get a phone call from someone who says, “I am Bashar.” Words are not enough to describe the pain of living in this uncertainty. The hardest thing is to live with false hope, but in my subconscious, there is something that can’t accept that Bashar is no longer in this life. It is true that hope is necessary, but I also can’t let it turn into an illusion and control me. This was one of the reasons that made us leave Syria to go to Turkey and then Germany. I know that if Bashar is still alive, he will definitely reach us by any means. But we left Syria because we have other people that we need to save.

Today all I want to say to the coalition forces, the Syrian Democratic Forces, and the Autonomous Administration, is that it is their duty to reveal everything, to help us find answers about Bashar and over 8300 Syrians who were kidnapped by ISIS. We want them to take responsibility and make visible efforts to provide families like mine with answers.