Belfast Telegraph

Aleppo Twitter girl evacuated to safety

A Syrian girl who was sent books by JK Rowling has been evacuated to safety.

Bana Alabed - whose Twitter posts documenting the horrors of living through the government's assault on eastern Aleppo caught Rowling's attention - was rescued as part of an evacuation deal that saw the remaining residents of the former rebel enclave head to other parts of the country.

"I escaped from East #Aleppo," the seven-year-old tweeted after arriving in Rashidin, an area west of Aleppo.

Her post was re-tweeted by the Harry Potter author.

Bana's mother Fatemah set up and began operating the Twitter account in September, tweeting on her daughter's behalf. She sent out messages to Rowling, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Earlier this year Ms Alabed sent a message to Rowling asking how her daughter could get hold of the Potter novels, as she was "reading to forget the war".

The writer, 51, then sent an ebook to Bana.

Ms Alabed posted an image of Bana holding a piece of card with the words "Thank you my friend JK Rowling for the books" and added: "Love you from Aleppo - Bana"

"Love you too, Bana! Thinking of you, keep safe", Rowling replied.

They later tweeted to say that their home had been destroyed by bombing.

Bana tweeted: "Tonight we have no house, it's bombed & I got in rubble. I saw deaths and I almost died."

Another message posted on the account said: "Last message - under heavy bombardments now, can't be alive anymore. When we die, keep talking for 200,000 still inside. BYE."

Both messages were retweeted by Rowling.

Speaking after being evacuated, Ms Alabed told the Qasioun News Agency on Monday that she was glad to have finally reached safety but expressed regret that she was forced out of her home city.

The English teacher said she did not want to become a refugee.

She said she created the Twitter account to tell the world about the suffering of children and all residents of rebel-held eastern Aleppo.

She said she hoped she and Bana could return to Aleppo soon.

"I left my soul there," she said.

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