"Explosions lit the sky over Damascus while Khaldoun partied with his friends late into a weekend night in August 2014...The next morning, the phone rang. It was his aunt. "Call your mother. And leave the house. Something bad is going to happen."
Khaldoun threw a few possessions into a gym bag. His mother told him to meet her shortly for the dangerous three-hour cab ride to Beirut, Lebanon. A family friend had spotted Khaldoun's name on a list of people to be detained by security forces loyal to Syrian despot Bashar Assad, if and when he was stopped at a checkpoint.
But Khaldoun and his mom would need to cross several checkpoints to get out of the war-ravaged nation. Each time, his heart raced. "They're going to know," he told himself."