The count increased, as Mahmoud Yasser Kassir, the owner of Damascus Grill, a staple in the Denver dining scene for more than 20 years, suffered the loss of 11 family members in the latest bombing and gassing of civilians in Douma, a city in the region of Ghouta.
As we recounted in an earlier post, Kassir was speaking on the phone with his relatives when the missiles struck, decimating their homes and the people inside. Amal Kassir – daughter of Mahmoud and a poet who lives in Denver – publicly shared an update on Facebook saying the family closed the restaurant for a few days while in mourning.
She also sent a note that her family death count was up to 11, if you include the two unborn babies. In it she writes:
"Babies in the womb can't always be included in death counts. I found out yesterday that my cousin Salam was also pregnant, in addition to holding her 2 year old child in her arms when the building was bombed. I had no idea. How easy it is to dismiss and miscount, even in your own family. Rahmat Allah Alayhm. Including those in the womb, 11 people. Excluding those in the womb, 9 people in my family were killed by the Assad Regime's bombs. Of those 9, Salam's daughter and her brother's son, both infants, died with the family. Photos of their bodies in the aftermath... Ya Allah. My sister, who is also a mom, said it was a good thing the mothers of these children weren't alive to see. In war zones, there is mercy in the death of unborn babies. There is mercy in a mother not having to risk watching her child die. There is mercy that the unborn aren't always included in death counts. There is mercy in a mother and a child dying together. Not every mother is spared. Many children are born into war, and so many children have died in this war. Tomorrow morning at 10 a.m., I will be in Colorado Matters with Ryan Warner on CPR. I will be giving a proper recount with the details that have come to me since the day of the attack. I ask Allah forgive any mistakes I make or have made in recounting and honoring this story. I ask Allah preserve the truth of this narrative to honor those who have died, shuhada Inshaallah. I ask Allah give my family the highest level of paradise and to destroy the oppressor who has destroyed and oppressed. I ask Allah crack open humanity's hearts and bring us all closer amidst this tragedy."
Neighbors and fans of the three-location middle-Eastern eatery have banded together to support the family. Donations are being accepted at the Wells Fargo Bank at Colorado Boulevard and Evans and all donations should be directed to the Kassir Family Relief Fund. Damascus Grill has three metro-area locations (2276 S. Colorado Boulevard, 1399 W Littleton Blvd in Littleton, and 703 Wilcox Street in Parker).
"In the days that followed, we received overwhelming and heartwarming support from the Castle Rock community," Amal Kassir said. "We would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to everyone."
The video below is of Amal Kassir. In it, she describes her worried father, explaining she had never seen him so frightened and overcome by emotion. She speaks of news that her father's sister had initially been pulled from the rubble of the smoldering building and was still alive, but died shortly thereafter.
She calls this gut-wrenching incident, "the first penetration of war in my father's family."