From Syrian refugee to cardiologist at Emory

ATLANTA — “You know, Syria is just a complex issue.”

Former Syrian refugee Dr. Heval Kelli sipped coffee at the Refuge Coffee Shop in Clarkston as he talked to Channel 2 Action News about the U.S military’s actions in his home country.

Kelli and his family escaped Syria in 1996 and came to the United States in 2001.

He washed dishes when he first arrived. Now, he’s a cardiologist at Emory University Hospital.


“First of all, me and my family got a little excited,” said Dr. Kelli about the U.S. cruise missile attack on a Syrian air base. “Someone finally responded to the Assad regime, telling them you cannot do that to your own people.”

U.S. intelligence blames Syrian President Bashar Assad for the chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of Syrian citizens as the six-year-long civil war continues.

“At the same time, we are afraid,” said Dr. Kelli. “How is he going to retaliate against his own people? I mean, just a few days ago he gassed, what, over 60 people?”

After seeing photos of the chemical attack, President Donald Trump ordered the Navy to fire 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the air base from which the chemical attack was launched.

Kelli had been a critic of Trump’s immigration ban, but now he hopes recent events will change his mind.

“When I watched President Trump speaking about women and children, he was very emotional,” Dr. Kelli said. “I hope he changes his view on Syrian refugees and maybe lift the ban and allow them to come in.”