One Syrian family’s struggle to start afresh in France

The Al Fakhry family are refugees who have lived in the town of Quissac, in southern France, for the past two and a half years. Originally from Raqqa in Syria, grandparents Asaad and Shiar and three of their seven children were welcomed to the town by a couple of Protestant pastors in September 2016. The family, of Muslim faith, whose house and bookshop were destroyed, fled to Turkey in 2013 before Raqqa fell to fighters from the Islamic State group.

2 Guys From Brooklyn Went To Syria To Fight ISIS. Now They’re Back (HBO)

Christopher is a former bike racer and photographer currently working as a metalworker in Brooklyn. His roommate, Chris, works as a theatre director. It’s a big change from a year ago, when both of them were in Syria, fighting the Islamic State as part of a Kurdish militia.

One year ago the U.S.-backed Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), finished a four month campaign to push ISIS out of its Syrian capital, Raqqa. Official American involvement in Raqqa was limited to airstrikes and small teams of elite special forces troops. But the YPG, a socialist Kurdish militia, didn’t have the same limitations, drawing hundreds of foreign, less-than-experienced fighters to its ranks.

Signing up was easy — both men found applications on Google. That’s also how they met, while fighting for the YPG, and they were there on the day Raqqa officially changed hands. (After hearing rumors that ISIS had placed a bounty on the heads of foreign fighters, Chris and Christopher requested to be identified only by their first names or Kurdish noms de guerre.)

“Most of the time it was super boring,” said Christopher. Chris says he read the “whole cannon” of Shakespeare during his time in Syria.

And like many foreign fighters, Chris decided to hide his involvement in the Syrian war, avoiding social media, and only telling close friends and family where he was. Christopher, on the other hand, took a slightly different approach, building a small Instagram following, where he posted updates from the battle in Raqqa and propagandized in support of Kurdish revolutionaries.

VICE News Tonight met Christopher and Chris in New York to ask what exactly compelled them to run off to Syria to fight for the Kurdish cause.

This segment originally aired October 17, 2018 on VICE News Tonight on HBO.

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These Brooklynites Went To Fight ISIS In Syria. Now, They’re Back. (HBO)

Christopher is a former bike racer, photographer who’s now a metalworker. Chris, his roommate in Brooklyn, New York, is a theatre director.

But a year ago they took a break from their jobs and went to Syria, to fight the Islamic State.

Despite the thousands of ISIS fighters that foreign recruits, official American involvement in Raqqa was limited to airstrikes and small teams of elite special forces troops. But the YPG, a socialist Kurdish militia that dominated the SDF coalition, also drew hundreds of foreign, less experienced fighters. The two Brooklynites, Christopher and Chris, met while fighting for the YPG and were there on the day Raqqa officially changed hands.

Before traveling to Syria, Christopher spent most of his time with bikes, racing and fixing them, while Chris dedicated himself to Shakespearean theatre. Like many foreign fighters, Chris decided to hide his involvement in the Syrian war, avoiding social media, and only telling close friends and family where he was.Christopher, on the other hand, built a small Instagram following where he posted updates from the battle in Raqqa and propagandized in support of Kurdish revolutionaries.

VICE News Tonight met Christopher and Chris, in New York, to ask what compelled them to fight for the Kurdish cause.

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After The Fall In Raqqa (Trailer) | VICE on HBO, Season 6

The fight for the future of Syria has turned the nation into a chessboard for competing world powers. But for civilians in the former ISIS capital city Raqqa, the ghosts of the past make the future hard to imagine.

Isobel Yeung returns to Syria to tell the stories of those who were caught in the crossfire between the most feared terror group on Earth and the US-backed coalition, whose collateral damage destroyed most of the city.

See it this Friday at 7:30 PM and 11 PM EDT on HBO.

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Gruesome find: Over 100 killed by ISIS recovered from 2 mass graves in Syria

Two mass graves uncovered near the former terrorist stronghold of Raqqa became the final resting place for dozens of Syrians executed by ISIS. READ MORE: https://on.rt.com/8vyh

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