New Orleans man worries for family missing in Syria

Published: Sep. 30, 2014 at 2:12 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2016 at 8:56 PM CDT
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The United States ramps up airstrikes in Syria to eliminate Islamic militants. Back here at home, one local man says he's fighting to save his family there.

Fouad Zeton is incredibly proud of his Syrian roots. "I have big family back home, big family," said Zeton.

The businessman has lived in the United States for years and remains in constant contact with his loved ones. But lately, it's been nothing but bad news coming out of the war-torn country.

Zeton explains, "They killed a bunch of my cousins, my two nephews were taken, disappeared for a year and a half."

Zeton's two brothers were also kidnapped. One just returned home this weekend in failing health. The other, Samir, hasn't been heard from in over a year. Zeton says, "I love my brother, I'll do everything I can in my power to free him."

Zeton believes his family was kidnapped by the Assad regime, whom he thinks also created ISIS.

Tulane associate professor of political science, Chris Fettweis, doesn't believe the Assad regime created the terror group, but he concedes that there are hundreds of different groups at odds in Syria right now. Fettweis explains, "It's this big messy civil war that's been going on for a couple years now."

U.S. airstrikes aim to destroy ISIS, but Fettweis says the government also needs the help of the Syrian people, saying, "ISIS will no doubt try to disappear into the people and the mountains there, which is when we have to have, hopefully, our local allies, to get them out."

It'll be a tough job with so many Syrians fleeing for the border in an effort to escape the fighting. Others, like Zeton's family members, are being persecuted and ripped from their homes. But fighting back is something Zeton believes most Syrians would support.

"The people of Syria are brave," he says. "They're not giving up. For the last person in Syria will die for the freedom of liberty and justice."

Zeton says he wishes he could be there to help - or at the very least - try to track down his brother.

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