First Syrian refugee family arrives in Georgia despite objections

Mohammad and Ebtesam arrived in Atlanta this week with their four-year-old son, the first Syrian refugee family to resettle in Georgia since Gov. Nathan Deal joined more than two dozen of his counterparts in vowing to halt their resettlement.

The couple — who asked that their last name not be published to protect relatives still living in Syria — described a hellish experience living south of Damascus amid the civil war still raging across their native country. Ebtesam wiped away tears as she confirmed two of their relatives had been killed in the fighting, including her sister. She was shot dead by a sniper as she took a walk with her infant daughter.

Now in its fourth year, the war has turned parts of their town of Daraa into rubble, destroyed the family’s home and made it too dangerous for Mohammad to support his family any longer as a taxi driver.

“Everything is gone in the city,” Mohammad said through an Arabic interpreter during an interview at the Stone Mountain office of World Relief Atlanta, which is helping the family resettle in Georgia. “The city was destroyed.”

Read more about the family’s years-long journey to Georgia and the contentious debate swirling around the resettlement of Syrian refugees here on

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