'My name is Hissam Saad and I am 60 years old. I am a surgeon who before the revolution ran a medical practice for over 20 years. I am a husband and father of three children; my eldest son, Sarmad, served in the army before the revolution.
When the Arab Spring broke, I, as a surgeon, could not stay away from it, becoming intensively involved in all areas of the revolutionary movement and participating in all rallies. Bashar Assad is a dictator; you probably know that he started shooting at people who gathered for rallies. Though I am a Christian, I went to the mosque where we all gathered before the rallies. All Syrian rallies come out of mosques: a mosque is not only a place of worship but also a meeting venue, a place where people of various religions can get together at a certain time and day; not only it is a place for Muslims or Christians but for all those who want to get together to stand up against a dictator.
Soon after the revolution started, the Free Syrian Army was formed. At first, its fight against the despotic regime was met with support; over time, however, all of its supporters turned away from the FSA and now the Army gets no support at all.
ISIL was created by command of the Syrian and Iraqi regimes to shift the agenda from social and economic issues and onto religious matters.
Sarmad saw the regime’s troops do terrible things to protesters, shooting and killing them. Two of his army comrades who refused to shoot at protesters were executed at once. Sarmad had always been a free man loathing anger and aggression. When they killed his friends, he and 23 other soldiers left the regime’s army, moving from the southern part of Aleppo to its western part where the Free Syrian Army was stationed.
After Sarmad left the army, the regime’s security service men came to my clinic to break everything there and threaten me. It happened 5 months after my son’s defection. But even after that I continued to work at the clinic, participating, as a free Syrian, in rallies, shooting and posting videos in social networks to let people know what was going on.
On November 23, 2012, I was arrested at the clinic and taken to one of the security service departments, department 255, where they kept me for 7 months. Then they transferred me to department 285.
They beat me. They beat me with a strap, kicked me with their boots, they beat me with everything they could. They broke my fingers. I am a surgeon and they broke all my fingers. They would lift me by my shoulder and leave me hanging like this for 3 hours. But the worst of all the torture I endured was cold (it was wintertime and I had no clothes on) and hunger: we were starving; they would not let us eat. They tortured me mentally threatening to rape my mother and daughter; they humiliated me as a human being and as a doctor. When they questioned me, I was standing before them stark naked, blindfolded, with my hands tied. It all lasted for 7 months.
All this will end if the whole world continues its pressure and starts using all available means to stop the dictator, the murderer.
Even if the regime succeeds in making Syria fall apart into several states, this will mean nothing: we will continue to fight no matter what. We’ll fight for a hundred years if we have to. Syria must be one country. After Assad goes, we will start building a new, free Syria: a democratic, multi-ethnic, and multi-confessional country.'