There is one thing Ru’a remembers very clearly about the night of March 20, 2003 – the wail of Baghdad’s air raid sirens.
“It was the first thing I heard when the invasion started”, she said. “Even now, I hate that sound.”
The 21-year-old joined millions of other Iraqis when she fled the murderous chaos of her country four years ago for the sanctuary of neighbouring Syria.
Just 13 when George Bush launched the war which would remould the Middle East, she now lives with her family in Damascus and is enrolled as a dentistry student in the city.
Although keen to return home, Ru’a is pessimistic about the future of her country.
Sitting down in her cream and blue hijab with an ankle-length black, cotton jacket and Adidas trainers, she said: “When the American invasion began, they said Iraq would become just like an American state. But this is not the case.”
As for the argument that her country is a better place without Saddam Hussein, Ru’a doesn’t buy it.
“I was young so I don’t remember him much. But my parents lived there for 50 years and even they preferred him to the Americans.”
Another casualty of war; another life living in the limbo of post-invasionIraq.