Syr­ian girl blog­ger meets Er­do­gan af­ter evac­u­a­tion

Kuwait Times - - NEWS -

ANKARA: Seven-year-old Bana Al-Abed, whose Twit­ter ac­count gave a tragic de­scrip­tion of the bomb­ing of Aleppo in Syria, yes­ter­day met Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan at his palace in Ankara af­ter her evac­u­a­tion from the city. Er­do­gan hugged the girl emo­tion­ally and also held Bana and her brother as they sat on his lap flanked by the pres­i­dent’s wife Emine. “Very happy to meet with Mr Er­do­gan,” Bana wrote on a tweet above a pic­ture of her nestling up to the cheek of the smil­ing Er­do­gan.

The young Syr­ian girl was one of thou­sands of peo­ple evac­u­ated from once rebel-held ar­eas of Aleppo in the last days un­der a deal bro­kered by Turkey and Rus­sia. She was evac­u­ated on Mon­day and Turk­ish offi- cials promised then she would come to Turkey with her fam­ily. But it was not clear when she had crossed over. “Thank you for the help in sav­ing the chil­dren of Aleppo from the war. I love you very much,” Bana told Er­do­gan ac­cord­ing to the pres­i­dency.

‘Stand by Syria’

For her 330,000 on­line fol­low­ers, Bana is a sym­bol of the tragedy un­fold­ing in Syria, al­though Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar Al-As­sad’s regime has slammed her and her mother’s nearly daily tweets as pro­pa­ganda. Her mother Fatemah, who runs the ac­count @AlabedBana, was also in at­ten­dance on Tues­day, the Turk­ish pres­i­dency said. “I was pleased to host @AlabedBana and her fam­ily at the Pres­i­den­tial Com­plex to­day,” Er­do­gan said in his own tweet. “Turkey will al­ways stand with the peo­ple of Syria,” he added.

Turkey is host­ing some 2.7 mil­lion refugees from the Syria con­flict but has made clear it now prefers to look af­ter those re­cently dis­placed, who are not in­jured, on the Syr­ian side of the border. How­ever it makes ex­cep­tions for spe­cial cases and the wounded. It was not im­me­di­ately clear if Bana would be stay­ing in Turkey. Bana’s ac­count has posted pic­tures of the de­struc­tion in Aleppo in­clud­ing her rub­ble-lit­tered street, while peo­ple have tweeted mes­sages of sup­port and con­cern, no­tably fear­ing for her life when tweets be­came less fre­quent.

At least 15,000 chil­dren are among the more than 300,000 peo­ple who have been killed in Syria’s near sixyear war. In her last tweet with her mother Fatemah be­fore the evac­u­a­tion, Bana made an ap­peal to Er­do­gan and Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu to put a frag­ile cease­fire back on track af­ter fre­quent de­lays. “We have brought the hope and sym­bol of the chil­dren of Aleppo, Bana, and her fam­ily to our coun­try,” tweeted Cavu­soglu. “What could be more beau­ti­ful than the smile of a child?”

Peo­ple en­joy ice skat­ing on the black ice of the Melch­see Lake in Melch­see-Frutt, Switzer­land yes­ter­day.

Turkey’s Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan (cen­ter) and his wife Emine (sec­ond right) pose with seven-year-old Bana Al-Abed (third left), who tweeted from Aleppo, and her fam­ily at the Pres­i­den­tial Com­plex.

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