There are so many horrible stories coming out of Syria that it is easy to forget that there are amazing heroes too.
Raed Saleh is one of those heroes.
In the early morning hours of June 9, 2011, Raed Saleh fled for his life. With his wife and two young children by his side, Saleh, then 30, estimates he was one of 2,200 Syrian refugees to cross into Turkey within a 72-hour period.
“We crossed the border at 3 a.m.,” Saleh said in an interview with The Huffington Post last week. He remembers the time for a reason: It was the moment he attained relative safety for himself and his family. Crossing into Turkey meant they had successfully outrun the Syrian army’s airstrikes. Saleh never imagined it would one day be his job to run back toward the bombing.
But three years after he escaped from Syria, that’s exactly what this former electronics merchant is doing. Saleh left his family in Turkey and returned to Syria to become a member of the White Helmets, a group of local volunteers who carry out search-and-rescue operations amid the country’s increasing violence and mounting destruction.
The White Helmets are apolitical, and Raed isn’t just a member. He’s the head of the organization.