Aleppo ‘Twit­ter girl’ safe as fam­ily flees

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A seven-year-old Syr­ian girl whose Twit­ter ac­count from Aleppo gained in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion has fled her home amid heavy fight­ing, but she and her fam­ily are safe for now, her fa­ther said yes­ter­day. With her mother’s help, Bana Al-Abed had been post­ing heart-rend­ing tweets in English on life in the be­sieged east­ern dis­tricts of Syria’s Aleppo. But as Syr­ian gov­ern­ment forces edged closer to their home in re­cent days, the Abed fam­ily fled and the Twit­ter up­dates slowed. “Our house was dam­aged in bom­bard­ment,” her fa­ther Ghas­san said by phone from east Aleppo, two-thirds of which has been seized by ad­vanc­ing gov­ern­ment forces.

“The army got re­ally close to our neigh­bor­hood. We fled to an­other part of east Aleppo and the fam­ily is do­ing well,” he said, adding that “the in­ter­net con­nec­tion is very weak here.” Since late Septem­ber, Bana and her mother Fatemah have gar­nered more than 211,000 fol­low­ers by tweet­ing reg­u­lar up­dates on bat­tered Aleppo. Pictures of mas­sive white col­umns of smoke, cap­tioned “Aleppo right now. We (are) so scared,” are in­ter­spersed with shots of Bana read­ing or scrawl­ing in a notebook.

The ac­count cap­tured the at­ten­tion of nov­el­ist JK Rowl­ing, who re­sponded to a picture of Bana por­ing over an elec­tronic copy of the “Harry Pot­ter” series. On Novem­ber 29, Bana’s ac­count tweeted a pho­to­graph of a heav­ily dam­aged build­ing, with the caption: “This is our house, My beloved dolls died in the bomb­ing of our house. I am very sad but happy to be alive.” Sev­eral days later, Bana wrote that she was sick: “I have no medicine, no home, no clean wa­ter.

This will make me die even be­fore a bomb kill me.” Many of the tweets have in­cluded cries for help, but the mes­sages grew in­creas­ingly des­per­ate at the week­end. On Sunday night, Fatemah posted: “We are sure the army is cap­tur­ing us now. We will see each other an­other day dear world. Bye.” The ac­count fell silent for 24 hours, prompt­ing con­cerned fol­low­ers to launch a #WhereisBana hash­tag. An up­date fol­lowed on Mon­day night, read­ing: “Un­der at­tack. Nowhere to go, ev­ery minute feels like death. Pray for us. Good­bye - Fatemah.”

On­line sup­port­ers of Pres­i­dent Bashar Al-As­sad have bashed the ac­count and sent Bana and her mother death threats. And in an Oc­to­ber in­ter­view with Dan­ish broad­caster TV2, As­sad al­leged that footage posted by Bana was “pro­moted by the ter­ror­ists or their sup­port­ers.”“It’s a game now, a game of pro­pa­ganda, it’s a game of me­dia. You can see any­thing, and you can be sym­pa­thetic with ev­ery picture and ev­ery video you see. But our mis­sion as a gov­ern­ment is to deal with the re­al­ity,” he said.— AFP

ALEPPO: Syr­ian Bana Al-Abed, who with the help of her mother had been post­ing heart-rend­ing tweets in English on life in the be­sieged east­ern dis­tricts of Syria’s Aleppo, uses a smart-phone to check her Twit­ter ac­count in her home in east Aleppo. — AFP

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