Gülden Aydın – GAZİANTEP
A cat rescued from Syria’s al-Bab by a Turkish soldier during the Euphrates Shield operation is now in the border province of Gaziantep and looking for a new home in Turkey.
Amid fierce clashes with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants in al-Bab as a part of the operation, Specialized Sgt. Ömer Özkan found a cat that was hungry and scared. He named it Barış (“Peace” in Turkish) and managed to bring him back safely to the military headquarters to look after.
Struggling to look after Barış amid ongoing clashes, Özkan took to social media to call for help.
The Gaziantep-based Improving the Life of Living Creatures Association (CAHİDE) got in touch with Özkan and Barış was brought to the Karkamış district near the border before eventually being transferred to Gaziantep on Feb. 21 after a two-day journey.
Barış is now in a shelter in Gaziantep’s TAMMED Hospital, with his snow white fur still bearing dark marks from the bombardment dust back in Syria.
“Barış from Syria is a five-month-old tabby. He was very hungry, exhausted and thirsty, and was also hungry for love. He feels peaceful and safe in his cage, has been vaccinated, and is a very healthy cat,” a CAHİDE volunteer told daily Hürriyet.
CAHİDE manager Deniz Yükselir pointed to nutritional issues and Barış’s reactions to food.
“It is clear that he experienced nothing but war and ate no food other than bread. He could not understand the food we gave him, and only started eating wet food after sniffing it for two days,” Yükselir said.
Another volunteer from the association, Emel Dağlı, pointed to scars on her face, saying all cats brought from Syria were traumatized by war and often scratched people.
Barış is the 11th cat brought to CAHİDE by people fleeing Syria. Families who have settled in the U.S. have even got in touch with the association, which promises to provide the transfer of all cats abroad to be reunited with their families.
However, not all animals brought over from Syria are as lucky as Barış.
Dağlı said three dogs died after being brought to the shelter, with two having been exposed to poison gas and the other dying of gastric perforation.
Barış is now waiting for a new home. People who want to adopt him will have to go through a screening process, and can call +903422521111 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to inquire.
Turkey and Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels gained full control of al-Bab from ISIL on Feb. 24 after two months of efforts to liberate the city as a part of the Euphrates Shield operation.