The Syrian revolution struck home yesterday. My wife, Manar Qash`ur [Kachour], burst into tears last night as she read the Facebook page that has kept her updated on events in her hometown, Latakia. Lt. Colonel Yasir Qash`ur, who was Manar’s cousin and 40 years old, was shot in Banyas on Sunday. He was one of two Lt. Colonels and 10 military personnel killed – more were wounded. Yasir’s funeral was held in the village this morning – Monday. My brother-in-law, Firas, and father-in-law, Shaaban, both attended.
Yasir’s parents have a house in Manar’’s village, Beit al-Murj, where we spend summers. Yasir’s father, Ahmad Qash`ur is married to Yamna Qash`ur; they are first cousins; Yumna is the sister of my father-in-law. They live two doors down from our house in the village and are a leading family in the community. Yasir’s father, Ahmad, worked as a lawyer with the oil refinery in Banyas. Both Yasir’s brother and sister are dentists in Banyas. Their family house in the village, where they spend summers, always had the door open and tea boiling in the courtyard. Every time we drove into the village, we would stop to say hello and share a tea or would yell greetings out the window of the car as we drove by. Yasir had a great sense of humor and was easy going. He was handsome and known for his striking blue eyes and fair complexion. He married a girl from Banyas, Rudaynah, who works as a teacher in Banyas.
Manar remembers that when they were about 13 years old, Yasir was trying to learn to whistle. He was unable to make a sound despite hard work and constant effort. One night after coming home late and washing up in the bathroom, he managed to whistle. proudly, he whistled as loudly as he could. He woke every one in the house. His father came into the bathroom and slapped him for arousing the family from its happy sleep. Yasir’s whistling triumph was unappreciated except as village lore. The retelling always roused a hearty laugh from everyone at his expense.
Yasir has two children, Ahmad and Nur, 10 and 12 years of age. He just finished building his first apartment in Banyas after 20 years of serving in the military. He built it on top of his parents’ house. The shutters had yet to be hung; it was not painted and much of the internal trim had yet to be added. But it was enough to move in. Last summer, when Manar and the kids were in the village, Yasir’s father told Manar, “Finally Yasir has his own house. I don’t want anything else. Now I am very satisfied.”
My sons, Kendall Shaaban and Jonah (Yunis) Firas, played with his children in the village the last several summers.
My father-in-law said on the phone this morning that it seemed that supporters of ex-Vice President Khaddam, who was from Banyas, were behind the attack. It is said that they had set a trap for the military unit. All this is speculation, however. We know precious little about who is killing whom in Syria. Allegations are numerous. Real knowledge is scarce.