S. Fla. family escapes Syria

Family continues to fight for Syrians' freedom

By Christina Vazquez - Reporter

SUNNY ISLES BEACH, Fla. - As tensions in Syria rise and explosions continue to rock the city of Homs, thousands are leaving the country. 

The Sibai family escaped Syria and came to Sunny Isles Beach. Imad Sibai owned a luxury car dealership in Homs, the site of what has been called the bloodiest offensive since the regime's crackdown on its own people began almost a year ago. 

INTERVIEW: Imad Sibai describes escape

Sibai was living there with his wife, Lois, who is from Miami, and their four children. 

"I was happy when it started because it was peaceful and everybody was feeling this freedom for the first time," Lois Sibai said. 

But the call for reform quickly turned violent. The Sibais had just left a protest when they said military forces surrounded the group and opened fire.

"These are unarmed men, women, children. The security forces got around the city center and just moved in and mowing them down like sheep to slaughter," Lois Sibai said. "Then come out and start grabbing the bodies and throwing them into the back garbage trucks, just throwing them in like garage, filling up garbage trucks." 

The security intelligence team then began harassing Imad Sibai, detaining him and making threats, while his wife and children dodged gunfire at home. 

"It is very scary. It's nightmarish, something that being an American I never thought I would be experiencing something like that," Lois Sibai said.
The family decided to escape in the middle of the night. 

"Because I saw mothers losing their children, friends of mine whose husband didn't come home," Lois Sibai said.

But even now, out of harm's way, their fight continues.

"We are fighting for freedom," Imad Sibai said.

They said they are rallying support for what they say their people need the most. 

"Give us arms," Imad Sibai said. "At least if we die, we die fighting and not get slaughtered for nothing," 

"If nothing is done, if the international community does not help the Syrian people fight, it will be genocide," Lois Sibai said. 

A group of U.S. senators, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, has presented the Obama administration with a resolution asking it to intervene.

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