CNN) — Zainab Alhusni was a simple seamstress in Syria, well-loved by all her neighbors and friends. Now, in a tragic turn of events, she has become a symbol of the cruelty gripping that conflict-wracked nation.
Alhusni was only 18 when she stepped away from her Homs residence last month to buy groceries. Her family never again saw her alive. She was whisked away by Syrian security forces to coax the surrender of her activist brother, and ended up beheaded and dismembered, a neighbor, activists and human rights groups say.
Waleed Fares, a neighbor and family friend, told CNN on Monday that Zainab’s father died when she was just a toddler, leaving her mother and three siblings to fend for themselves in a country with often-unfavorable conditions for a single mother. All four children dropped out of school at a young age so they could work as laborers to provide for their family, Fares said.
Zainab dreamed of owning her own tailor shop, so she could support her impoverished family, he said. But she never had a chance to fulfill that dream.