10 years of war: The Syrian farmer who lost his family

Abdel Razzak al-Khatoun was a well-to-do farmer in Syria's rural Hama province.

Now, ten years on from the start of the civil war, he is penniless, homeless, and living in a tent in northern Idlib.

Far worse, Khatoun says he lost his 13 children and wife in the conflict.

"After I went out following the revolution, I lost three children and I started moving from one village to another until I reached Saraqib. I lost another seven at the gas station. I’ve lost 13 children now and my wife Um Ayman."

His oldest child was 27 and the youngest just 13-years-old.

He says some were rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Speaking to Reuters through tears Khatoun showed a video on his phone which he said showed the grisly execution of one of his sons.

Reuters could not independently verify his account of the civil war, but it is not uncommon.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the fighting that began with protests that quickly turned violent in 2011.

Millions more, like Khatoun, have fled their homes for safer areas within Syria or as refugees abroad.

The Assad government denies that it tortures captives.

Moscow and Damascus also deny accusations of indiscriminate bombing of civilians, saying they only target radical militants.

Assad has survived the insurgency and now holds sway over many parts of the country, helped by Russia’s military and Iran’s Shi’ite militias.

He is set to maintain power after a presidential election later this year.

As for Khatoun, now 84 years old, he lives with his surviving grandchildren and the wives of his dead sons.

"I am a farmer and people knew this in the North. I used to work with 1,800 acres and I used to be one of the leading farmers. I am a tough farmer. Now I am penniless. But I thank God for everything."

Video Transcript

- Abdel Razzak al-Khatoun was a well-to-do farmer in Syria's rural Hama province. Now, 10 years on from the start of the civil war, he is penniless, homeless, and living in a tent in northern Idlib. Far worse, Khatoun says he has lost his 13 children and wife in the conflict.

ABDEL RAZZAK AL-KHATOUN: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: After I went out following the revolution, I lost three children. And I started moving from one village to another until I reached Saraqib. I lost another seven at the gas station. I've lost 13 children now and my wife Um Ayman.

- His oldest child was 27 and the youngest just 13 years old. He says some were rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad's government. Speaking to Reuters through tears, Khatoun showed a video on his phone which he said showed the grisly execution of one of his sons. Reuters could not independently verify his account of the civil war, but his story is not uncommon. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the fighting that began with protests that quickly turned violent in 2011. Millions more, like Khatoun, have fled their homes for safer areas within Syria or as refugees abroad.

The Assad government denies that it tortures captives. Moscow and Damascus also deny accusations of indiscriminate bombing of civilians, saying they only target radical militants. Assad has survived the insurgency and now holds sway over many parts of the country, helped by Russia and Iran. He is set to maintain power after a presidential election later this year.

As for Khatoun, now 84 years old, he lives with his surviving grandchildren and the wives of his dead sons.

ABDEL RAZZAK AL-KHATOUN: [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]

INTERPRETER: I'm a farmer and people knew this in the north. I used to work with 1,800 acres and I used to be one of the leading farmers. I'm a tough farmer. Now I'm penniless. But I thank God for everything.