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When Frenemies in Combat Turn into Waiting Room Buddies: The 20-Year Reunion You Won’t Believe!



Quick Smiles:

  • Two former enemy soldiers, Najah Aboud from Iraq and Zahed Haftlang from Iran, who saved each other’s lives, reunite by chance in a hospital waiting room 20 years later.
  • Despite being on opposite sides of the Iran-Iraq War, Haftlang chose to save Aboud’s life, even fighting off his own comrades to do so.
  • Their unexpected reunion in a Canadian hospital waiting room led to a deep friendship that both men describe as the most precious thing in their lives.

Talk about a plot twist! This isn’t just another run-of-the-mill story; it’s a tale of destiny. Picture this: the world is in chaos, with war ravaging three continents. Amidst all this, CBC News brings us an incredible story of two soldiers, from opposing sides, who find each other again in the most unlikely of places.

The backdrop? The Iran-Iraq War, instigated by the Jimmy Carter administration. This conflict, the longest conventional war of the 20th century, resulted in over a million casualties. But within this grim setting, a remarkable story unfolds, featuring two key characters: Najah Aboud from Basrah, and Zahed Haftlang from Tehran.

Aboud, an Iraqi soldier, confessed to CBC’s show Ideas, “I didn’t know much about Iran. I knew it was a neighboring country. And that they were people next door to us. We enjoyed their music. They enjoyed ours. They were just like us.”

Assigned to a tank unit, Aboud was instructed to occupy a bunker in the city of Khorramshahr. However, a counterattack by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, including medic Zahed Haftlang, left him injured and helpless. Despite their countries being at war, Haftlang chose to save Aboud’s life after finding a photo of his family in his pocket.

This wasn’t an easy feat. Haftlang had to physically fend off his fellow soldiers, one of whom even struck Aboud with his rifle. Yet, against all odds, he managed to get Aboud to a field hospital and convinced the reluctant doctors to treat him. Aboud survived, only to be sent to a POW camp for 17 years.

Fast forward to years later, both men had lost everything due to the war. Aboud returned home to find his family gone, while Haftlang battled depression and homelessness in Vancouver. In a twist of fate, they ended up in the same mental health hospital, where they recognized each other and reconnected.

“I was a prisoner of war,” Aboud told Haftlang, explaining his knowledge of Farsi. Haftlang responded, “I remember taking an Iraqi to a field hospital. His teeth were broken.” Before he could finish, he noticed Aboud’s broken teeth and realized who he was.


In an incredible coincidence, these two men had immigrated to the same country and ended up in the same hospital on the same day. Their reunion brought tears to the hospital staff and cemented a friendship that both men now cherish above all else.

So, next time you think the world is all doom and gloom, remember this story. It’s a testament to the power of humanity, compassion, and friendship, even in the darkest of times.