Bana Alabed's Mother Shares Her Devastating Reaction to Leaving Aleppo

December 19th 2016

Lucy Tiven

Bana Alabed's voice opened a window into the bleak life for her and tens of thousands of others trapped in east Aleppo when the 7-year-old girl and her mother opened an account on Twitter. After months chronicling life in the besieged Syrian city, she and her family finally made it to safety on Monday, The Washington Post reports.

Syrian American Medical Society President Ahmad Tarakji snapped a selfie with Bana outside of Aleppo, where she and other children fled after rebels struck a deal with the Russian and Syrian governments to let them out.

Fatemah shared her and Bana's story in a heart wrenching video interview with Qasioun News, an independent Syrian news agency.

In the interview, Fatemah explains that created the Twitter account to "tell all the world" about the suffering in Aleppo, where as many as 250,000 people, including 100,000 children were besieged by pro-Syrian government forces for months. She described constant Russian and bombings, noting that even hospitals and schools were targeted.

"[There are] no clean roads, no medicine," Fatemah told Qasioun News. Leaving by bus, her family went without food or water for 24 hours before they reached safety.

Some had earlier questioned whether Fatemah and Bana even existed, with skeptics suggesting they were fabulists. Earlier this month ATTN: reported on how children who live to tell about their experiences are often attacked by partisans for one side in a conflict. Syrian journalist Marwan Hisham also told ATTN: how he was able to report from besieged parts of Aleppo, noting that WiFi and prepaid Internet packages were widely available, in part because the war removed state restrictions on Syrians' access to the Internet in rebel-held parts of the country.

The only doubt about the Alabed's existence now is where they go from here.

Fatemah expressed profound sadness at leaving her home country.

“I leave my soul there,” she said. “I want to take our freedom there, not be like a refugee in other countries."

Evacuations out of the city resumed Monday after the passage of a U.N. resolution in the morning.

The resolution permits the U.N. and other groups to send monitors into the region to help ensure civilians' safety and provide aid during the evacuations. Initial evacuations began after a cease-fire, announced Tuesday, but were postponed the following day due to reports of artillery shells fired into eastern Aleppo.

Evacuations of two Shiite villages besieged by rebels were also halted Sunday after six buses were torched by extremist militants, an attack that was condemned by rebels in Aleppo, who agreed to the evacuations of Kafraya and Foa as part of the deal to evacuate Aleppo.

[h/t Washington Post]