Monday, May 27, 2024
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Monday, May 27, 2024

Astronaut Mohammad Fares laid to rest in liberated Syria

Syrian astronaut Mohamad Fares; Photo Credit: SYRIAWISE

With heavy hearts, we at SYRIAWISE mourn the loss of a great man, Syrian astronaut, and national figure Mohammad Fares who was a model of steadfastness and positivity for all of us. His life was marked by many sacrifices as well as achievements that together embody a great legacy for our homeland and its ongoing struggle for freedom.

Thousands accompany the body of Mohammad Fares to its final resting place in the Martyr’s Cemetery in Azaz, Syria; Photo Credit: Omar Alshemale

Fares was one of the most down-to-earth people one could ever meet despite being one of an elite few who have been privileged to spend time in outer space

According to his wish that his much-beloved homeland be his final resting place, Fares’ body was returned to Syria for burial on Monday, April 22, 2024. Upon his arrival in the liberated area of northwest Syria, Fares was welcomed by a multitude of mourners who had gathered from many areas to pay their respects to one of the few Syrian regime officers to be truly worthy of military honor. 

Known by his many friends as someone with a true love for humanity, Fares was one of the most down-to-earth people one could ever meet despite being one of an elite few who have been privileged to spend time in outer space. 

Fares chose to focus on educating, encouraging, and empowering young students whenever he could as he saw them as the best hope for a better future, not only for Syria but for the world

Mohammad Fares was born in the Syrian city of Aleppo on May 26, 1951. In 1973 he graduated from Aleppo’s military pilot school and became a pilot in the Syrian Air Force specializing in navigation. He married Hend Akil and they had five children, daughter Hadeel and sons Qutayba, Houzayfa, Mir, and Wadda.

Despite the national recognition he received for his accomplishment with the Russian astronauts, Fares fell out of favor with former Syrian President Hafez Assad after returning to Syria following his mission with the Soviets. Finding himself blocked by the regime in all of his efforts to further the pursuit of aeronautics, Fares chose to focus on educating, encouraging, and empowering young students whenever he could as he saw them as the best hope for a better future, not only for Syria but for the world.  

After defecting from the regime in 2012, Fares and his family were welcomed by the government in Turkey which treated him with the respect he had been denied by the regime in Syria. In 2020 he was granted Turkish citizenship which restored his autonomy allowing him to travel once again. 

After finding refuge in Turkey, Fares seemed to prefer spending time with his family and friends and continuing to speak to young people at schools and universities throughout Turkey

In the very first interview published by SYRIAWISE in January 2022,  Fares spoke about being able to attend the ASE XXXIII Interplanetary Congress in Budapest, Hungary in 2021. “Since I was granted Turkish citizenship and a Turkish passport, I am now able to travel and re-establish relations with my astronaut friends. I was so pleased and happy to be able to make this trip,” Fares said in the interview.

But even as he rebuilt his life in Turkey, he never lost his longing to return to his homeland, concluding the interview with these poignant words: “I miss the old historical neighborhoods. I miss strolling the streets of those neighborhoods. Oh, to sit in the street of my old neighborhood and see its simple people. I still have hope to come back to the city and rebuild it together.”

A humble man who never wished to be viewed as a celebrity, Mohammad Fares nevertheless managed to touch the lives of many people worldwide who are now mourning his passing

Despite his warm personality and ability to treat everyone he met as an equal, Fares had his limits. He had little patience for those who engaged in endless political conferences about solutions for Syria that have never produced any positive outcomes, and even less patience with conspiracy theorists who would often approach him wanting to know if the earth was flat instead of round. Early in the revolution, he was asked to be the leader of the Free Syrian Army but declined. After finding refuge in Turkey, Fares seemed to prefer spending time with his family and friends and continuing to speak to young people at schools and universities throughout Turkey.

A humble man who never wished to be viewed as a celebrity, Mohammad Fares nevertheless managed to touch the lives of many people worldwide who are now mourning his passing. Even as his body was being transported to Syria, thousands of mourners gathered to pay their respects in Istanbul as well as many other cities across Turkey and Europe where many displaced Syrians have settled.  

Thousands of mourners gather at the Fatih Mosque in Istanbul on Monday, April 22, 2024; Photo Credit: SYRIAWISE

On the other side of the world in Chelsea, Michigan, members of Chelsea First United Methodist Church’s  Parables ministry, who have been praying for peace in Syria for years, expressed their deep sorrow over his passing and offered up prayers for his family and friends during their Sunday service.

Chelsea First United Methodist Church, Chelsea, Michigan, USA; Photo Credit: Parables
Parables prayer list for the week of Sunday, April 21, 2024; Photo Credit: SYRIAWISE

Even though the US Embassy in Damascus has been officially closed since February 2012, its Facebook page remains active and posted this message on the day of his funeral:

So it seems that the Syrian regime’s efforts to relegate Syrian astronaut Mohammad Fares to obscurity have come to naught, as many Syrians and non-Syrians alike publicly vowed on the day of his funeral to make sure that his memory is honored and that he is given his rightful place in the history of his homeland.

Final resting place of a true Syrian hero, Martyr’s Cemetery, Azaz, Syria; Photo Credit: Mohammad Fares’ family

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