Syrian Refugee: ‘It Was Pretty Much Suicide To Stay In’ Aleppo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The United States and Russia have reached an agreement on a cease-fire in southwest Syria.

Word of the cease-fire came as President Donald Trump held his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany.

Although details about the agreement and how it will be implemented aren’t yet available, the cease-fire is set to take effect Sunday at noon, Damascus time.

“Honestly, when I hear something like that, I get a little happy and hopeful,” said Syrian refugee Mahmud Hallak.

Hallak grew up in Aleppo, a Syrian city hit the hardest by the country’s civil war.

He came to Philadelphia in 2012, after he was forced to flee his home country.

“The government was able to get our names, who we are, and what we did,” said Hallak. “That point it was pretty much suicide to stay in the city.”

Hallak – just a teenager back then in Syria – was part of a protesting group of Syrian people fighting for freedom, trying to overthrow the country’s oppressive government.

While he was able to flee to America, his father did not and was killed during the war.

Over the past five years of the unrest in Syria, Hallak also lost a cousin and several friends.

He is hopeful that this new cease-fire, backed by the U.S., Russia and Jordan, will work.

He also hopes the world understands it is not a victory for the Syrian people.

“At this point, there is peace, but not really,” he said. “It’s just a government taking over full control. Seeing that, it’s just like all that happened was pointless. All these people died, all this distraction and we did not come up with anything.”

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