Bana Alabed after chemical attack: ‘My people are dying everyday as you watch’


The seven-year-old Syrian refugee who chronicled her life in war-torn Aleppo on social media has a clear message for leaders of the international community: It’s never too late to save innocent civilians caught in her home country’s ongoing civil war.

A chemical attack on Tuesday that killed at least 75 civilians and left scores more wounded in the rebel-held Idlib province in northeastern Syria, almost universally attributed to the government of President Bashar al-Assad, sparked widespread outrage and underscored the Assad regime’s apparent indifference to world opinion as the bloody conflict enters its sixth year.

Bana Alabed and her mother, Fatemah Alabed‏, have been living in neighboring Turkey after escaping from Aleppo in December, but they still use their social media platform to draw attention to the continuing slaughter and to advocate for those still trapped.

“This is my message. It’s never too late. Save the people of Syria,” Bana Alabed said in a new video Wednesday. The young girl also appealed to the United Nations, King Salman of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help bring an end to the war.

Early Tuesday morning, warplanes dropped bombs that released toxic gas on the city of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the attack killed at least 106 citizens, including women and children. It is believed to be the deadliest chemical attack in Syria since the assault on Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, in 2013.

The Alabeds shared heartbreaking videos and pictures of people writhing and suffocating from the effects of the toxic chemicals. People with gaping wounds and bloodied faces are shown sprawled amid debris, while others convulse on rubble-laden streets below thick black clouds.

Warning: Graphic images

Bana and Fatemah Alabed, who appeared on CNN’s “New Day” Wednesday morning, encouraged their followers to flood the streets wherever they are and demand justice for everyone killed in Syria on Tuesday.

The world is watching. The world doesn’t do anything,” Bana said. “I want them to stop the war, and I want the children of Syria to play and go to school and live in peace. Together we can help them. Together we can save them.”

When Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., was asked to respond to Bana’s message later that morning on CNN, he said the U.S. needs to get over its “fear of action” because it’s facing a humanitarian crisis.

“I’m ashamed of our government’s actions so far, and inaction. I wish I had the ability to move forces to do what needs to be done,” Kinzinger said.

He lamented that this is the first time the U.S. has de facto accepted the use of chemical weapons on the battlefield since the First World War.

Bana’s dispatches from eastern Aleppo have often been compared to Anne Frank’s diary during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. For many around the world, Bana put a human face on the tragedy. She has 363,000 followers on Twitter.

Bana Alabed, at left, and children at a hospital after the suspected gas attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria
Bana Alabed, left; children at a hospital after the suspected gas attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria. (Photos: Umit Bektas/Reuters, Sadduldin Zaidan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Syrian President Assad denied that the government’s military used chemical weapons against its own people, as he has every time these weapons have been used in the conflict before. Yahoo News chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff confronted Assad over new evidence of war crimes committed by his regime earlier this year. He dismissed the incriminating evidence, including torture photos, as fabricated: “You can forge anything these days.”

Western governments immediately blamed Assad for the attack. The White House released a statement Tuesday that condemned Assad but spent as much time scolding former U.S. President Barack Obama for not intervening after drawing a “red line” concerning the use of chemical weapons in 2012.

“Today’s chemical attack in Syria against innocent people, including women and children, is reprehensible and cannot be ignored by the civilized world,” President Trump said. “These heinous actions by the Bashar al-Assad regime are a consequence of the past administration’s weakness and irresolution.”

Meanwhile, France’s foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, called for the United Nations Security Council to convene an emergency meeting: “A new and particularly serious chemical attack took place this morning in Idlib province. The first information suggests a large number of victims, including children. I condemn this disgusting act.”

The Syrian American Medical Society, the major nongovernmental group within the U.S. helping Syrian refugees, is sending dozens of doctors to Jordan to care for refugees in and around Amman. Some 650,000 Syrians are officially registered as refugees in Jordan. That’s about 10 percent of Jordan’s total population.

The Syrian refugee project of the European University Institute estimates that 13.5 million people in Syria need humanitarian assistance and 11 million Syrians fled their homes since the civil war broke out in March 2011.

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