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Tuesday, February 7th, 2023

‘Aleppo girl’ makes it to safety

A man hugs a woman as buses evacuating civilians arrive in Jibrin on the eastern outskirts of Aleppo on Monday. Picture: AFP/George Ourfalian

BANA al-Abed, the seven-year-old whose Twitter account has offered a tragic account of the war in Syria, was evacuated from the divided Syrian city of Aleppo on Monday, a Turkish NGO announced on social media.

“This morning @AlabedBana was also rescued from #Aleppo with her family. We warmly welcomed them,” the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) wrote on its Twitter account, sharing an IHH aid worker’s selfie picture with the girl.

For her tens of thousands of 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.

News of Bana’s rescue came as the UN Security Council voted on Monday to quickly deploy UN observers to the city to monitor evacuations and report on the plight of civilians who remain in the besieged Syrian city.

Bana, with her mother Fatemah after they reached the Aleppo countryside following the evacuation of their city. Picture: APSource:AP

With Russia’s backing, the council unanimously adopted a French-drafted resolution that marks the first show of unity in months among world powers grappling with the crisis in Syria.

The measure tasks the UN with carrying out “adequate, neutral monitoring and direct observation on evacuations from eastern Aleppo and other districts of the city.” It requests that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon take urgent steps to allow the observers to monitor “the wellbeing of civilians” and to consult with interested parties on the deployment.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre said the international presence would prevent Aleppo from turning into another Srebrenica, where thousands of Bosnian men and boys were massacred in 1995 when the town fell to Bosnian Serb forces.

The UN Security Council voted on Monday to quickly deploy UN observers to the city to monitor evacuations. Picture: AFP/George OurfalianSource:AFP

It remained uncertain however on whether the Syrian government would give the observers access to the city and allow operations there to come under international scrutiny.

Thousands of traumatised Syrians left the rebel enclave of Aleppo on Monday under a complex evacuation agreement that will see regime forces exert full control over the battered city.

The operations resumed on Monday, with around 5,000 people travelling in 75 buses out of Aleppo, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

A fragile cease-fire was back in place in Syria on Monday as buses resumed evacuating those still remaining in eastern Aleppo. The process had stalled on Sunday after militants burned six empty buses assigned to take the villagers out. Photo: Reuters.

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 five-year war.

Tarakji Ahmad, president of Syrian American Medical Society, also posted a picture of Bana, with an aid worker.

“@AlabedBana and many children arrived to #Aleppo countryside. @sams_usa@UOSSM and partners arr co-ordinating the response plan there,” he tweeted, also announcing the evacuation.

For her tens of thousands of followers, Bana is a symbol of the tragedy unfolding in Syria. Picture: Thaer Mohammed/AFPSource:AFP

Bana’s last tweet with her mother Fatemah before the evacuation made an appeal to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu for putting a fragile ceasefire back on track after frequent delays.

“Dear @MevlutCavusoglu & @RT_Erdogan please please please make this ceasefire work & get us out now. We are so tired. — Fatemah #Aleppo.” Responding in a tweet Monday, Cavusoglu wrote: “Difficulties on the ground won’t deter us sister. Rest assured that we are doing all to get you and thousands of others to safety.” An IHH spokesman confirmed to AFP that the young girl was among the first batch of evacuees Friday morning, and was at Rashidin region at the moment.