Law Student Turned Taxi Driver Bears Witness to Syrian War

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In a telling interview, a young man who was a second-year law student during the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War explains why he joined the rebels after witnessing what he says were atrocities committed by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in his hometown of Aleppo. Seeing the city's war-torn streets from his eyes, viewers get an unflinching insight into the daily comings and goings of an average Syrian whose life has been fundamentally transformed by the civil war.


Imad Haj Bakri, Taxi driver:
(Man, Arabic) (00:42-01:24)

I studied law at Aleppo University and was a second-year student. Then I volunteered in the police force. After the revolution started and I witnessed the conflicts and the oppression, I withdrew from the course and started participating in the demonstration. The regime caught me and imprisoned me and I was expelled from the university. That is why I came here, to work and make a living. During my work with the rebels, I was injured more than once.

Imad Haj Bakri, Taxi driver:
(Man, Arabic) (02:00-03:11) Conversation with a passenger:

Passenger: What happened here?

Driver: many missiles were dropped here and they caused destruction, this used to be a main highway, look what happened now.
Many people died, look where it was dropped, here on the concrete, look at the huge hole it created, almost 37 kills - a massacre. Look at the destruction, it is like this wherever you go. There is a school there that was also attacked. Poor children.

Passenger: a barrel bomb attacked it right?

Driver: yes

Passenger: May God never have mercy on Bashar.

Imad Haj Bakri, Taxi driver:
(Man, Arabic) (03:14-03:37)

I forgot about my studies, and this taxi is how I make a living, even though the fuel is very expensive, and the roads are destroyed. Life is a lot more expensive now, we do not know what to do. We are alway expecting a barrel bomb or a missile.

Imad Haj Bakri, Taxi driver
(Man, Arabic) (03:52-04:12)

The situation is much worse than before, fuel is expensive and roads are destroyed, everything is destroyed. I forgot about my studies to be able to provide for my family.

Imad Haj Bakri,Taxi driver:
(Man, Arabic) (04:23-04:29)

I am totally content and life has to go on.

Imad Haj Bakri, Taxi driver:
(Man, Arabic) (04:58-05:41)

When the FSA first entered Aleppo, it was the fourth of Ramadan, the first missile was dropped on al-Ansar al-Sharqi, the first missile to be dropped in Aleppo. So I went to watch, it was strange for us, so we went to watch, I was injured, I do not know exactly how, but I knew I'd been injured. It felt as if I was falling asleep, and I woke up in the university hospital, controlled by the regime, I was unconscious for about a week and lost sight in my right eye.

Imad Haj Bakri, Taxi driver:
(Man, Arabic) (06:23-07:39)

What happened is, it was the fourth of Ramadan, I was in my house which is on the opposite side of this area. We heard a massive noise and thought it was a missile. We rushed to rescue people, and it was strange, there were not many injuries, only one man that I can remember, and while a huge number of people were standing in the area, another missile was dropped on us. I fainted for a few seconds then woke up to see corpses and injured people everywhere, a scene you cannot imagine. I looked around and fainted again because of how horrifying the scene was. I woke up in the hospital and they told me that it was the thirteenth day of Ramada. I had been unconscious for a while and was injured in the eye and the head, and they had inserted tubes in my body.

Abdulrahman Haj Bakri, Imad's younger brother:
(Man, Arabic) (07:46-08:04)

My brother Imad is older than me. He was a university student, but the difficult situation forced him to work as a taxi driver. In spite of the fact that this profession is very dangerous, and there is constant shelling, and the regime is targeting the liberated areas, my brother keeps working.

Ahmed Orabi, Imad's friend
(Man, Arabic) (08:05-08:58)

Imad's case is not a special case, but we can make it special by shedding light on the fact that he is a university student and a lawyer and is now working as a taxi driver. Because of the difficult circumstances and the expensive cost of life, we are trying to do anything we can to support our family. He has a special case because he used to be a good law student and he had lots of ambition, but now he is a taxi driver, and that is how people see him, without knowing his background or the fact that he is a well educated person.


  1. Various/traveling shots of Aleppo streets
  2. Interview with Imad
  3. Shots of Imad as he drives his taxi
  4. Conversation between Imad and a passenger
  5. Interview with Imad
  6. Shots of a destroyed area and interview with Imad
  7. Shots in the car with Imad and other men
  8. Shots of the area where Imad was injured
  9. Interview with Imad
  10. Interview with Abdulrahman, Imad's brother
  11. Interview with Ahmed Orabi, Imad's friend