A troubled Army vet clandestinely joined the fight against Assad. Then an adventure turned into a tragedy.
In December, 2012, an itinerant American named Eric Harroun checked into a youth hostel in Istanbul. A thirty-year-old U.S. Army veteran with sandy-blond hair, Harroun had left the service in 2003, and since then he had travelled everywhere from Lebanon to Thailand. He was living out of a green duffelbag and a tan camouflage backpack, navigating the world one Lonely Planet guidebook at a time.
At the hostel, Harroun, who made friends easily, met a liberal Syrian activist from Aleppo. “We were hanging out every night, drinking until morning, and talking about the revolution in Syria,” the activist said. The revolt against Bashar al-Assad was approaching its third year, and the activist lamented that Assad was bombarding his people with tanks, jets, and poison gas.
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