Bana al-Abed, a 7-year-old Syrian girl who became the face of the civilian plight in eastern Aleppo through social media, has finally been evacuated. Bana and her mother, Fatemah, arrived in Al Rashideen, an opposition-held area in the countryside of western Aleppo Province, on Monday, along with thousands of others displaced from the city they called home.
On Twitter, Bana said simply, “I escaped from East #Aleppo.”
The bright-eyed girl with a toothy smile captured the world’s attention after her mother created a Twitter account in her name in September and began using it to share daily updates in English about Bana and her family. As the weeks went on, the posts changed from videos of Bana smiling and reading from books in broken English to desperate pleas for an end to the airstrikes raining down on her opposition-held neighborhood.
In one video, she said: “Please save us. Thank you.”
In late November, Fatemah posted that the family’s home had been destroyed in an airstrike. As Syrian government forces retook Aleppo from rebel fighters last week, and Turkey, Russia and Iran brokered a deal for civilians to leave, it was clear that the Abeds would be among thousands displaced by the conflict.
Bana and Fatemah are seen in several videos published by journalists from Al Rashideen who documented the wave of civilians evacuated from the city. In the clips, the pair recounted their harrowing evacuation and the hours of uncertainty as it was stalled.
“We stayed almost 24 hours in the bus, without food, without water and anything,” a gaunt and pale Fatemah told the Qasioun News Agency.
As the account drew attention, it also drew skeptics who suggested that Bana was a fraud and her father a violent jihadist. The New York Times covered speculation about the veracity of the Twitter account, and I wrote an essay for Times Insider about my conversations with Fatemah.