|Born||1972 (age 47–48)|
|Other names||Thwaiba Kalafani|
|Known for||Volunteered to fight with Syrian rebels|
Thwaiba Kanafani is Canadian/Syrian engineer whose 2012 decision to volunteer to fight with Syrian rebels against the Bashar al Assad regime triggered world-wide coverage.In August 2012, Tom Coghlan, writing in The Times of London, described her as "the female face of the Syrian revolution." She encouraged other women to also join the free Syrian army. The world-wide media coverage encouraged young Muslims to travel to Syria to fight against Assad, many of whom would later join ISIS.
Kanafani emigrated to Canada in 2002, after working in the United Arab Emirates.She and her husband raised a family in Toronto.
In the months leading up to her decision to volunteer Kanafani described participating in social media discussions about the unrest in Syria, and the number of deaths of innocent civilians.She described being encouraged to volunteer by her older brother. Her husband and children joined her, and established a home in Egypt prior to her travel to Turkey for military training.
The Free Syrian Army broadcast a YouTube recruiting video showing Kanafani surrounded by other fighters, where she announced she had joined the Banner of Damascus Falcons Troop of Aleppo Martyrs.
In early August 2012 Kanafani had crossed back into Turkey, after two of her bodyguards were killed.
In October 2012 Armina Ligaya writing in the National Post reported on Kanafani's return to Canada.She quoted Kanafani remaining committed to return to Syria. Kanafani had not served as a front-line fighter, and had not been called upon to fire her weapon. Her duties had consisted of committee meetings, visiting refugee camps, and other recruiting activities. Kanafani had also gone underground, and had scouted areas still occupied by al-Assad loyalists.
In an October 2012 profile of Khaled Sawaf, president of the Syrian Canadian Council, Simon Kent, writing in the Toronto Sun , reported that Sawaf described Kanafani.
In 2015 the Toronto Star described Kanafani as having left the front lines after growing disillusioned.
Saraqib is a city in northwestern Syria, administratively belonging to the Idlib Governorate, located east of Idlib. During the course of the Syrian Civil War, the city fell into rebel forces in 2012 and was recaptured by the Syrian Army in 2020.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is a loose faction in the Syrian Civil War founded on 29 July 2011 by officers of the Syrian Armed Forces whose stated goal was to bring down the government of Bashar al-Assad. A formal organization at its founding, its structure gradually dissipated by late 2012, and the FSA identity has since been used by various opposition groups.
This is a broad timeline of the course of major events of the Syrian Civil War. It only includes major territorial changes and attacks and does not include every event.
The 2012 Aleppo Governorate clashes were a series of battles as part of the early insurgency phase of the Syrian civil war in the Aleppo Governorate of Syria.
The following is a timeline of the Syrian Civil War from January to April 2012, during which time the spate of protests that began in January 2011 lasted into another calendar year. An Arab League monitoring mission ended in failure as Syrian troops and anti-government militants continued to do battle across the country and the Syrian government prevented foreign observers from touring active battlefields, including besieged opposition strongholds. A United Nations-backed ceasefire brokered by special envoy Kofi Annan met a similar fate, with unarmed UN peacekeepers' movements tightly controlled by the government and fighting.
The following is a timeline of the Syrian Civil War from May to August 2012. The majority of death tolls reported for each day comes from the Local Coordination Committees, an opposition activist group based in Syria, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, another opposition group based in London.
The Battle of Damascus started on 15 July 2012 during the Syrian Civil War. It is unclear who started the battle. Thousands of rebels infiltrated Damascus from the surrounding countryside. Following this, according to some reports, the opposition forces launched an operation to capture the capital, while according to other reports, the military learned of the large-scale rebel operation beforehand and made a preemptive strike. Some reports even suggested the rebels launched the operation prematurely due to their plans being discovered by the security forces.
The Battle of Aleppo was a major military confrontation in Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, between the Syrian opposition against the Syrian government, supported by Hezbollah, Shia militias and Russia, and against the Kurdish-majority People's Protection Units (YPG). The battle began on 19 July 2012 and was part of the ongoing Syrian Civil War. A stalemate that had been in place for four years finally ended in July 2016, when Syrian government troops closed the rebels' last supply line into Aleppo with the support of Russian airstrikes. In response, rebel forces launched unsuccessful counteroffensives in September and October that failed to break the siege; in November, government forces embarked on a decisive campaign that resulted in the recapture of all of Aleppo by December 2016. The Syrian government victory is widely seen as a turning point in Syria's civil war.
Syria is subdivided in a hierarchical manner into:
Darat Izza is a town in northern Syria, administratively part of the Aleppo Governorate, located 30 kilometres northwest of Aleppo. Nearby localities include Deir Samaan to the north, Anadan to the east and Turmanin to the southwest.
The Rif Dimashq offensive was a Syrian Army offensive in the Rif Dimashq Governorate during August–October 2012, as part of the Syrian Civil War.
The following is a timeline of the Syrian Civil War from September to December 2012. Information about aggregated casualty counts is found at Casualties of the Syrian Civil War.
The following is a timeline of the Syrian Civil War from January to April 2013. Information about aggregated casualty counts is found at Casualties of the Syrian Civil War.
The June 2012–April 2013 Idlib Governorate clashes was a series of clashes within the scope of the Syrian civil war, that took place in Syria's Idlib Governorate. The events followed the April 2012 Idlib Governorate Operation by the Syrian government and consequent cease-fire attempt, which had lasted from 14 April to 2 June 2012.
The following is a timeline of the Syrian Civil War from August to December 2014. Information about aggregated casualty counts is found at Casualties of the Syrian Civil War.
The following is a timeline of the Syrian Civil War from January to July 2015. Information about aggregated casualty counts is found at Casualties of the Syrian Civil War.
The following is a timeline of the Syrian Civil War from August to December 2015. Information about aggregated casualty counts is found at Casualties of the Syrian Civil War.
The following is a timeline of the Syrian Civil War from January to April 2016. Information about aggregated casualty counts is found at Casualties of the Syrian Civil War.
The 2012–2013 escalation of the Syrian Civil War refers to the third phase of the Syrian Civil War, which gradually escalated from a UN-mediated cease fire attempt during April–May 2012 and deteriorated into radical violence, escalating the conflict level to a full-fledged civil war.
“I came from Canada to answer the call of my homeland,” Ms. Kanafani says in a YouTube video announcing her decision, posted on July 7 and translated from Arabic. “To enlist myself in the Syrian Free Army and join the Banner of Damascus Falcons Troop of Aleppo Martyrs, special missions. A message to the free ladies in Syria to immediately join the Free Army to work with our [defending] brothers and fight al-Assad militias.”
After weeks of meetings with opposition figures based in Turkey, she said she was spirited briefly across the border into Syria to record a call-to-arms video that has become a centrepiece of opposition propaganda. In it, she announces proudly that she has “come from Canada to answer the call of my homeland.”
In May, Kanafani left her apartment in Toronto for the Syrian battle zone, a decision, she says, surprised her family and friends.
The remaking of Thwaiba Kalafani, 41, from Western business high-flyer to Syrian insurgent commander in the “Eagles of Damascus” Brigade is one of the more unlikely effects of the country’s increasingly brutal civil war.
She has become the female face of the Syrian revolution but Thwaiba Kanafani desperately misses her two children. She consoles herself, she says, by reasoning that it is for their sake and for Syrian children like them that she carries a gun on to the battlefield.
When we met up in the city of Adana in southern Turkey, she had just fled across the border from the Syrian city of Aleppo after a mission with rebel forces that went wrong. Two male colleagues who were acting as her minders, were killed.
Half of her time was spent in Turkey, living out of a hotel room and co-ordinating via social media, or in committee meetings and visits to refugee camps. Ms. Kanafani says her role was far from the front line. She learned how to use a gun, but says she never fired one and is against killing.
Sawaf spoke as Thwaiba Kanafani, a Toronto mother of two, told of her work as an active member of the Free Syrian Army.
“It was purely political, of course,” said Kanafani, who is back home in Mississauga and utterly dejected by what she now regards as “a stolen revolution.”