Tayside woman tells of fears for family in Syrian war zone

© Fraser Band
Perth woman Zabieh Shihada Alsamaan in the Fair City Blend coffee house, where the international cafe for foreign nationals holds its meetings.

A Syrian woman now living in Perth is fearful for her sister and her family whose town is being pounded by Isis.

Zabieh Shihada Alsamaan is a pupil support assistant at the Fair City’s St John’s Academy and a volunteer at the ethnic minority hub, which caters for refugees from Syria among others.

Zabieh, her husband Moyassar and two girls have been in Perth since 2005.

Her sister, Marwa Shihada, visited the city seven years ago and that was the last time Zabieh saw any of her family face-to-face.

Sisters Marwa Shihada and Zabieh Shihada Alsamaan

She is still in contact with Marwa by phone and social media and is worried about the fate that may befall Marwa and others in the town of Al-Skylbieh.

Zabieh said: “The town is being hit by Isis rockets.

“It is under siege on a daily basis. Al-Skylbieh is a Christian community and that is why it is being targeted by Isis.

“My sister lives there with her husband, Ayed Hana, and their children Rachel, 18, Michel, 16, and Karam, 14.

“It had a population of 17,000 but so many refugees have poured into it that the population is now 40,000.

“Some of those who have come to Al-Skylbieh for shelter are among those who have been killed.

“The deaths have included an elderly woman and a nine-year-old boy, Allan Warda.

Allan Warda

“Everything in the town is cancelled and children cannot go to school as going outside is too dangerous.

“It is a horrible situation and I am so worried about my sister and her family and others.

“There are times when I am phoning that I can hear the rockets.

“It’s a very frightening situation and Isis seem to be getting nearer the town.”

Archie MacLellan, who was Labour leader on Perth and Kinross District Council, said: “Hopefully, things will work out OK for Zabieh’s family and others in that situation.”

Archie, who was recently installed in Show Racism The Red Card’s Hall of Fame and was Labour leader on the council for 12 years, added: “Perth has shown itself to be welcoming to refugees.

“The Syrian people have settled in well and are getting involved in the community.

“I’m sure the council will continue to keep helping the Syrian refugees and I’m also sure the citizens of Perth will continue to do their utmost for them.”