Thwaiba Kanafani

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Thwaiba Kanafani
Born 1973 (age 47–48)
Damascus, Syria
Nationality Canada/Syria
Occupation engineer
Known for Volunteered to fight with Syrian rebels
The National Post reported that the Free Syrian Army broadcast a YouTube recruiting video featuring Kalafani, wearing a military uniform, surrounded by male fighters, on July 7, 2012.[1]

Thwaiba Kanafani is Canadian/Syrian engineer whose 2012 decision to volunteer to fight with Syrian rebels against the Assad regime triggered world-wide coverage.[2][3][1][4] Tom Coghlan, writing in The Times of London, described her as the female face of the Syrian revolution, in August 2012.[5]

Kanafani emigrated to Canada in 2002, after working in the Unite Arab Emirates.[3] 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.[1] 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 October 2012 Armina Ligaya writing in the National Post reported on Kanafani's return to Canada.[6] She quoted Kanafani remaining committed to return to Syria. Kanafani had not served as a front-line fighter, after all, had not been called upon to fire her weapon. Her duties had consisted of committee meetings, visiting refugee camps, and other recruiting activities.

In 2015 the Toronto Star described Kanafani as having left the front lines after growing disillusioned.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Armina Ligaya (2012-07-12). "Thwaiba Kanafani trades Toronto apartment for battle zone: Taking up rebel cause". National Post. Archived from the original on 2013-09-10. Retrieved 2015-03-24. "“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.”" 
  2. Justin Vela (2012-07-12). "Syrian rebels: ‘I don’t think we need help from a woman from Canada’". Antakya, Turkey: Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 2012-07-13. Retrieved 2015-03-24. "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.”" 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Nadine Kalinauskas (2012-07-12). "Toronto mother Thwaiba Kanafani swaps city life for Syrian war zone". Daily Brew. Archived from the original on 2015-03-24. "In May, Kanafani left her apartment in Toronto for the Syrian battle zone, a decision, she says, surprised her family and friends." 
  4. Tom Coghlan (2012-08-04). "Canadian ‘mom’ is new rebel recruit". The Times. Retrieved 2015-03-24. "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." 
  5. Tom Coghlan (2012-08-07). "‘I don’t know if I will ever go back to my children. How can I leave the revolution?’". The Times. Retrieved 2015-03-24. "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." 
  6. Armina Ligaya (2012-10-08). "Canadian mother vows to rejoin Syrian civil war to help rebels in fight against Assad". National Post. Archived from the original on 2014-08-21. Retrieved 2015-03-24. "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." 
  7. Mitch Potter (2015-03-23). "50 shades of war: Canadians dive into conflicts’ grey zones". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2015-03-24. "“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.”"