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'My heart is broken': SoCal Syrian Americans react to Aleppo crisis

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Syrians leave a rebel-held area of Aleppo toward the government-held side on Tuesday, during an operation by Syrian government forces to retake the embattled city. U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm over reports of atrocities against civilians Monday, as the battle for Aleppo entered its final phase.

To many, the unrest in Syria is a world away. But for those of Syrian descent living here in Southern California, it's almost too much to bear.

Today, president Bashar Al Assad said that "history is being made" with the defeat of insurgents in Aleppo. Tens of thousands of civilians and the last remaining rebels are evacuating under a delicate cease fire.

To many, the unrest in Syria is a world away. But for those of Syrian descent living here in Southern California, scenes of violence and devastation are almost too much to bear. 

Maria Khani, a senior Muslim chaplain with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department, has family from Aleppo. She and her daughter, Dania Alkhouli, are co-founders of A Country Called Syria, an organization that educates people about the culture and contributions of Syria. 

They joined Take Two to share their thoughts on the current crisis in Aleppo.

Interview highlights:

Maria Khani:

"My heart is broken into pieces. Tears flow out of my eyes all the time. The only thing that I can keep on doing is doing here what I believe is right. To continue to reaching out to people and share with them the history of Syria, making connections with people, praying and being here today...I have lots of memories, my mom was born in Aleppo. Although I grew up in Damascus, we used to visit Aleppo. I have lots of memories. Just seeing people dying— doesn't matter if it's Aleppo or any other city— it's overwhelming, it's devastating, it's heartbreaking. It's all of the above."

Dania Alkouli:

"I think the word helpless is something a lot of us are feeling, just because it's so distant. But, like my mom said, there's still the action of, first and foremost, having faith and keeping prayer. Because, you know, when you reach that point of helplessness, you end up stopping what you do, and we can't do that. The people of Syria and Syria itself needs us to keep going under these current circumstances."

To hear the full interview, click the blue player above.

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