Michael's Dispatches

How you Got Hit


25 November 2013


Some people love war.  For most others, the disease is difficult to live with.

Parents have it bad.  They are challenged to safeguard children while showing strength when schools close, food runs out, and fetching water can end with a sniper’s bullet.

An oft-repeated parental worry is that they will be killed and nobody will care for their children.  Some orphans fall into the safety net of a large family, while for others the loss of a father can leave the mother begging for a lifetime along the roadways, the children spread to the winds as prostitutes, beggars, thieves, or in rare cases, suicide bombers.

A Syrian rebel with a camera came to see me in Turkey and brought video of a boy being shown how he was struck in the head with shrapnel.


The boy heard stories about what happened.  In what might be the most recorded war in history, the moment was captured on video.

And so, in an attempt to help the boy put this injury in his past, his family decided to show him the footage.


A woman at first covered his eyes from the most gruesome moments.

The Syrian informant who provided the images also wrote a summary in Arabic, which was translated for me by another Syrian who speaks English with an American accent:

“Ibrahim was fragged in his head in January 2013 when he was playing near his home in the Idleb countryside, Syria. His injury was bad. He was treated by closing the wound with stitching even though there is a lack of medical supplies in the area. After a while, the boy watched himself in a video that was shot when he was hit and then rescued. He only remembers his panic and the pain that made him cry. It was like a dream he could not wake up from.  He is stronger now. Whenever he sees the video, he remembers that there are people who rescue all the injured. That was an encouragement for him to stay in his village and play with his friends in the same place he was injured, with no psychological repercussions related to the time or place.”


Ibrahim is one of the lucky ones, so far.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Austen Lennon · 7 years ago
    I feel for any child that gets hurt in any conflict and this boy is no exception and I am glad that he is on the mend..... but can I ask this simple question, and I do not mean it to be a question with intent to upset or criticise Michael as he is a true reporting hero..... but 'who are the good guys and is it not possible to get the view from both sides?'

    I have heard about how Assad is a monster and always has been, well I know he is not the friend of the West, but the 'rebels' are no friend of the West and we see images every day of their monstrous acts. So are we supporting the right side or are we buying trouble for ourselves?
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Michael Yon author · 7 years ago

      Good questions/points. It is impossible to show both sides because there are far more than two sides. Some people believe a thousand groups are involved, but let's guess that is a vast overstatement and only fifty groups are involved, and journalists, writers, etc., who venture in are at this point on death dashes with extremely limited access. Notice this dispatch does not say who fired the shell. I have no idea who fired it, and the witnesses likely do not know, either.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peter · 7 years ago
    Glad you're back in Turkey, Mike, and have a nice turkey day there also. Stay safe, there's a lot of people who hunger for your reports. Don't get caught in the cross fire.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ken Flauding · 7 years ago
    I visualize something like a many headed hydra, or Medusa attacking Assad. Financed by enemy governments, including our own. Their only common cause is to bring down Assad. They have no idea how things will be ran afterward, but my bet is the Muslim Brotherhood will be there to assist any way they can.

    For our country to assist in the bringing down of another dictator, is insane. Very few of the players in this arena are our friends, unless of course they can get money and weapons from us.

    Unfortunately, the die is cast and too much has been done thus far to turn this around to a peaceful transition of government.

    One must take a look and see who is selling weapons and from where? The profiteers of war all all over this region, making rich ones richer and new ones rich. Their progeny will carry the curse of war in their blood for generations. A price will be paid through reciprocity in the future. This is certain.

    I pray for the children. It is a lousy place to grow up.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John - Capt in ANG · 7 years ago
    This is why when people ask me to explain, I really can't anymore. As I once heard someone say and I now repeat, it's simply that entire region is sick. Do we all get sick? Yes, but most of us believe in medicine and get better. The Middle East and parts of Asia have been sick for centuries, and keeps reinfecting itself. What can you do when a patient keeps reinfecting? You can't control all variables or the patient himself.

    It gets to a point where you have to walk. This is where I am with the Middle East and Asia. Just walk away. Nothing we can do, and when the sick/infected hit us, you drop a brickhouse on them (e.g. a little more forceful then lobbing cruise missiles) and then you immediately disengage. The sick go back to playing with the sick (read: Sunni's killing Shia killing Sunni killing Hindu killing Muslims killing....)

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