October 25, 2021

Open letter from teachers in northwest Syria

If you are an educator and would like to sign on to this letter in solidarity with Syrian teachers, please email [email protected] with your full name and affiliation.

To world leaders:

We are the teachers of students in northwest Syria who are deliberately targeted in their homes, classrooms and as they walk to school. We go to work afraid of another attack, and of another traumatizing day, which we know will affect our pupils for the rest of their lives.

Our letter could not be more urgent. Early morning on Wednesday, October 20, four students and our colleague, Arabic teacher Qamar Hafez were tragically killed on their way to school when Syrian government forces attacked the town of Ariha in south Idlib with artillery shells.

At least 55 children have been killed in the past four months by the Syrian and Russian governments, nearly a child every other day, and one million children in Idlib are terrified they might be next or they might lose their best friend at any moment. Like teachers everywhere, we are deeply committed to the children we teach, and we do all we can to try to protect them but it is not enough. We need world leaders to stop the attacks, and ensure that children are safe and able to continue their education.

We’re trained to evacuate the classroom when the bombs fall. We run regular drills with the children as we only have a few minutes when there’s a warning that a warplane is coming closer, so we have to move fast. The training itself can be confusing for young children who don’t understand that we’re practicing.

Whenever a warplane is nearby, we ask the children to remain calm and rush them to a shelter, usually a small room under the stairs, where we hide for hours until it’s safe to come out. Those are the hardest moments. We respond to calls and texts from parents, and we do everything we can to help when the children panic and ask to go home.

One of our students, ten-year-old Jamila al Jasem, was killed in July. She had already fled her home many times due to attacks but there was nowhere safe left to go and at 5am on 12 July, Assad’s forces bombed her home killing Jamila. None of her third grade classmates would sit in Jamila’s chair for a month until a new student came.

Our schools have already been targeted eight times in 2021 and we’re worried that fewer and fewer children will return to school each school year. The intense fear has caused many students to become isolated and depressed. Already half the school-aged children in northwest Syria are out of school due to bombing and displacement. These children desperately need the routine and support systems that come with school.

Schools are supposed to be a safe space for children to learn and grow, not a target for warplanes and missiles. As teachers we will keep going to work even if it means risking our lives under bombs, but we need the international community to take action to end the attacks and hold Russia and the Syrian government accountable for such horrible crimes, so that our classrooms can be full with students again.


  1. Abdulrahim Hayri
  2. Ahmad Ali al-Nakuh
  3. Abdullah al-Tawil
  4. Ahmad Abd al-Hamid Yassin
  5. Muhammad Hammoud al-’Oud
  6. Nassir Abd al-Rahman al-Saffanah
  7. Yasser al-Haj Ahmad
  8. Ahmad Muhammad al-Said
  9. Ahmad Ali al-Maghlaj
  10. Bashar Ahmad al-Khaled
  11. Ahmad Khaled al-Sulaiman
  12. Dalia Muhammad Jamil Abdallah
  13. Ahmad Khaled al-Sulaiman
  14. Tareq Ahmad al-Sheikh
  15. Ahmad al-Izz
  16. Ghaitha Muhammad Abdallah
  17. Abdallah Bakkour
  18. Fatimah Ibrahim al-Aswad
  19. Ahmad Hamid al-Ali
  20. Sulaiman Sulaiman
  21. Hussein Ahmad al-Alloun
  22. Amira Abd al-Ghafour al-Aswad
  23. Allam Ibrahim Adham al-Omar
  24. Hassan Saif al-Din Douri
  25. Yasser al-Hamsho
  26. Izdihar Juma Harmoush
  27. Muhi al-Din Muhammad Dib al-Zoubi
  28. Muhammad Khaled al-Abdallah
  29. Muhammed Mansur Teet
  30. Fariza Ikrima al-Khalaf
  31. Rehab Ahmad al-Hayek
  32. Ibtisam Ibrahim Qabalan
  33. Mustafa al-Mustafa
  34. Yahya Muhammad Deeb al-Habra
  35. Muhammad Najia
  36. Abdallah al-Ali
  37. Ammar Muayyad al-Uthman
  38. Raya Muhammad Izz al-Din
  39. Ahmad Muhammad Sheikh Youssef
  40. Mariam Radwan al-Arafat
  41. Majed Abd al-Rahman al-Ahmad
  42. Marwan Khaled Khattab
  43. Muhammad al-Arabo
  44. Falak Ramadan al-Ramadan
  45. Ahmad Muhammad Sabra
  46. Juhayna Muhammad Jaabari
  47. Lama Muhammad al-Omar
  48. Ahmad Mansour al-Ahmad Haj Deebo
  49. Raad Ahmad al-Sheikh
  50. Ahmad Ali al-Rahhal
  51. Feryal Abd Alkader Alkaddour
  52. Bashir Hatem al-Hussein
  53. Ibrahim Ahmad al-Shamali
  54. Mahmoud Muhammad al-Muhammad
  55. Yahya Hallaq
  56. Salim Abd al-Aziz al-Bakkour
  57. Sami Zaydan
  58. Amal Khaled al-Ali
  59. Nahed Abdallah Maqtifi
  60. Fatima Abd al-Salam al-Musa
  61. Nasiba Ahmad Sabahiya
  62. Hadeel Akram al-Maghlaj
  63. Abdallah Ahmad al-Abid
  64. Hala Khaled al-Krayman
  65. Abd al-Qader Abd al-Hayy al-Rashid
  66. Hussein al-Tawil
  67. Hamid Muhammad
  68. Mahmoud Jihad al-Jarak
  69. Ibrahim Mosulli
  70. Fadi Hamad al-Hassan
  71. Abdallah Maghlaj
  72. Rehab Muhammad Ali al-Alloush
  73. Amani Nader Abd al-Hadi
  74. Salim Abd al-Aziz al-Bakkour
  75. Nermin Hassan Jaddou
  76. Sulaiman Khaled al-Mawwas
  77. Turkiyya Ramadan al-Hallaq
  78. Sabah Khaled Baghdadi
  79. Raqiya Muhammad Salloum
  80. Ahmad Khaled al-Shawa
  81. Nasiba Yahya
  82. Ghadeer Musa al-Arab
  83. Sallouh Ahmad al-Said
  84. Nawwaf Abdallah al-Khalil
  85. Raed Muhammad al-Allaiwi
  86. Khaled Hassan al-Hussein
  87. Basima Muhammad al-Abdallah
  88. Fahima Muhammad al-Hashoum
  89. Hayfa Jasem al-Khatib
  90. Muhammad Abd al-Hadi al-Ballan
  91. Hadeel Abd al-Razzaq al-Muhammad
  92. Hanan al-Jaban
  93. Bushra Abd al-Sattar Khatib
  94. Saher Subhi al-Ibrahim
  95. Fida Nayyoul
  96. Fatima Abd al-Razzaq al-Muhammad
  97. Wala Abd al-Salam al-Musa
  98. Ibtisam Yassin Haj Yassin
  99. Wasel Mahmoud Assaf
  100. Iman Muhammad Abd al-Majid
  101. Buthaina Abd al-Rahman Ahmad
  102. Abd al-Mueen Ismail al-Allaiwi
  103. Muhammad Mustafa al-Habyo
  104. Hafez Ahmad al-Hasan
  105. Ammar Maghlaj
  106. Hadeel Razzouq
  107. Ubay Mahmoud al-Uthman
  108. Minar Abd al-Samad Muaykel
  109. Muhammad Rimah Adnan Naasan
  110. Khalidiyya Raslan al-Rahhal
  111. Malak Munir Thalja
  112. Amal Abd al-Karim Qentar
  113. Najm al-Din Tareq al-Sayyadi
  114. Issa al-Issa
  115. Lamees Mahmoud Derbas
  116. Jihan al-Sheikh
  117. Lama Abd al-Hadi al-Kamel
  118. Salam Muhammad al-Bakkour
  119. Wala al-Dbeis
  120. Iman Ali al-Mansour
  121. Mahmoud Taha Meri
  122. Ayham Hussein al-Khalfan
  123. Munib al-Ali
  124. Ahmad Jamal Naasan
  125. Aqeel Yassin
  126. Kamal Ahmad al-Hassan
  127. Maysa al-Muhammad
  128. Issam Abd al-Aziz al-Naasan
  129. Khattabi Khattabi
  130. Mahmoud Ahmad al-Oyoun
  131. Muhammad Razzouq
  132. Samira al-Taleb
  133. Sattam Muhammad al-Ismail
  134. Ahmad Ibrahim al-Ibrahim
  135. Mustafa Abbas
  136. Muhammad Oud Kharzoum
  137. Afraa Majed Zada
  138. Iyad Abd al-Karim al-Khlaif
  139. Alzhaher billah Muhammad Naser al-Waw
  140. Hiyam Tahseen Ammar
  141. Ahmad al-Omar
  142. Usama Ali al-Khlaif
  143. Abd al-Razzaq Saleh al-Agha
  144. Nuzha Adnan Yassin
  145. Abd al-Halim Kharzoum
  146. Anwar al-Mustafa
  147. Ahmad Hassan al-Noushi
  148. Nour Abd al-Rahim Barbaro
  149. Noha Muhammad al-Khlaif
  150. Afeef Abdallah al-Wahoub
  151. Khadija Mahmoud al-Rajab
  152. Wafa Nader Bakkour
  153. Labiba Muhammad Sa’id al-Shahhoud
  154. Juma’a ‘Abd al-Karim al-Sakhouri
  155. Yasser Ibrahim Qassem
  156. Joumana Mahmoud al-’Omran
  157. Battoul Dbeis Mariam al-Hamadi
  158. Khaled Ibrahim Bakkour
  159. Shoaa Hayel al-Faraj
  160. Khadija Hamad al-Hayari
  161. Khadija Sheikh Ahmad
  162. Mahmoud al-Jarak
  163. Mariam al-Bakkour
  164. Wafa al-Darwish
  165. Mouina al-Qassem
  166. Bashar Monther al-Yahya
  167. Omar Yusuf al-Omar
  168. Ruha Abd al-Hayy
  169. Ahlam Muhammad Kneissawi
  170. Battoul Ahmad al-Naqouh
  171. Ahmad Hilal
  172. Iman al-Mustafa
  173. Omar Walid al-Omar
  174. Talal Abd al-Basset Haj Yassin
  175. Muhammad Ali al-Hussein
  176. Fadi Ghaleb Issa
  177. Abdo Mahmoud Ibrahim
  178. Ibrahim Ali al-Ibrahim
  179. Muhammad Idlbi
  180. Dima Ghannoum
  181. Oussama Ayoub
  182. Jumaa Yassin

And teachers around the world in solidarity:

  • Alexa Firat, Assistant Professor, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA
  • Victorine Michalon, teacher of French as foreign language, Université de Montréal, Québec, Canada
  • Anne Strudwick, retired teacher, London, United Kingdom
  • Dylan Connor, high school Latin teacher at Bunnell High School, Stratford, CT, USA
  • Inge Vermeire, Dutch teacher, Belgium
  • Ruth Buchli, retired Adult Educator & Community Development Worker, Orselina, Switzerland
  • Jeanne-Hélène de Reparaz, France
  • Gillian Moore, primary school teacher, Ireland
  • Amina Masri, Elementary School Teacher, USA
  • Brooke McMillan, teacher at Holy Trinity Catholic High School, Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canda
  • Mary Alacoque Ryan, retired second level teacher, Tuam, Ireland
  • Aya Faraj, 4th grade homeroom teacher, USARosmarijn Huner, primary school teacher, ASKO, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Bayan Arafeh, pre-service teacher, Australia
  • Daryl Funk, Mathematics Instructor, Douglas College, New Westminster, BC, Canada
  • Janet Mordike, retired chemistry teacher, Lancashire, United Kingdom
  • Laura Forbes, music teacher, north London, United Kingdom
  • Anna Hart, English instructor, ALPS Language School, Seattle, WA, USA