Syrian Olympians stay away from war talk in London
LONDON (AP) - The Syrian Olympic team doesn't talk about the civil war back home.
Bayan Jumah, a swimmer on the Syrian team, is from Aleppo, a city wrecked with violence for two weeks during one of the most important battles of a 17-month uprising against the government of Bashar Assad.
Jumah, after competing Wednesday in 100-meter freestyle, said she is in touch with her family and worries about them some- although they live in downtown area of Aleppo, and fighting has been heaviest in the outskirts.
But for the most part, Jumah said, she has focused on swimming rather than follow developments at home.
"We never talk about this," she said.
Jumah failed to qualify for the semifinals. On Saturday, a Syrian boxer, a shooter and another swimmer were eliminated from the Olympics after losing in their first rounds at the London Games.
Syrian athletes are also competing in equestrian, weightlifting and track events at the London Games.
Assad on Wednesday urged his armed forces to step up the fight against rebels in Aleppo as the U.N. reported a significant escalation in the war, with the military using warplanes to fire on opposition fighters in the battle for Syria's largest city.
Aleppo, a city of 3 million, has been in turmoil since rebels attempted to take it over and succeeded in holding several neighborhoods despite daily assaults by regime tanks, helicopters and warplanes.
Jumah said she was proud to represent her country in London and said she hopes for the violence in Syria to end.
"I am here to represent my country, and I dream for everyone who wants to be in the Olympics," Jumah said.
She plans to return to Aleppo after the London Games end Aug. 12. Directly addressing the Syrians at home, Jumah said: "Thank you to everyone who watched my race, and I hope the problems will soon end."
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