Roughly 2,000 Syrian refugees may be relocated to the states this year, with Chicago being among the major cities that will receive them, a recent State Department report indicates.
That number is a big jump from the fraction of families who make it to safety from war-torn areas of the world like Syria. The Torkmany family is among just four who’ve resettled in the Chicago area since the Syrian Civial War erupted four years ago.
Mayada Hamdo Torkmany learned that her husband had been shot in the head by a sniper when a stranger who saw the murder picked up the dead man’s cell phone and called her to break the news.
"He was coming home and he was executed by a sniper," the emotional widow told NBC Chicago.
While time has passed, her grief has not.
Torkmany knew she could no longer protect her family from the daily shootings, arrests and bombings in her hometown of Homs, Syria. She described how opposition forces would shoot at random people, go into their homes and imprison men and children. She and her six children fled to Damascus but soon learned they weren't safe there either.
"Something just dropped on our home and we all passed out under a huge cloud of smoke," said 19-year-old Zayd Torkmany.
It was a barrel bomb, and when shrapnel was launched in all directions when it hit their house. Chunks of metal struck Zayd, his 13-year-old sister Wedad, and Mayada Hamdo Torkmany. The children desperately needed medical care but it wansn't safe to go to a public hospital.
"They took Wedad and me to a field hospital because if I go to the public hospital I would get arrested right away because of the regime,” said Zayd Torkmany.
The children were taken to a secret underground hospital. NBC 5 Investigates has reported extensively on these temporary field hospitals – located in bombed-out buildings, basements and farm houses.