A Syrian father taught his little daughter to not be afraid of the war in Idlib, pretending it was just a game. A video of the two, laughing as bombs were falling nearby, went viral. Now, the family has been taken to safety in Turkey.
A video that quickly went viral online shows a Syrian father attempting to turn bombings into a game for his little daughter by laughing at the sound of each bomb as it explodes. Abdullah Mohammed wanted to help his daughter, Selva, stay calm as bombs from the Syrian government and Russian forces rained down around their home in Idlib.
Selva's father shared the video on social media to send out a cry of help to the world and shed light on the dramatic humanitarian situation in northwest Syria. The video was shared widely and touched people around the world.
Thanks to the video, Selva will no longer have to fear the bombs. The video caught the attention of Turkish officials, who managed to find the Mohammed family in Idlib. They then provided them with safe passage to Turkey -- even though fighting in northwestern Syria is still ongoing. Turkey (which supports the opposition, for whom Idlib is the last stronghold) and Russia (which supports the Assad regime) have been unable to find an accord on a ceasefire.
Now Selva, her mother and her father are in the border province of Hatay. They are among the few fortunate Syrians who have been able to escape to Turkey in recent years, following Ankara's decision to close its borders, declaring it was unable to accommodate any additional displaced people. Overall, Turkey has taken in an estimated 3.6 million Syrian refugees since the start of the war in Syria.
Appeal to the world to not forget about Idlib
In an interview with Turkish state news agency Anadolu, Abdullah Mohammed thanked the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and called on the world not to forget about Idlib.
"Instead of those bombs, here we can hear the sound of birds," he said. "We feel safe, but our minds are still in Idlib. There are many people there who are suffering from hunger and cold."
According to the UN, at least 900,000 people have fled the region since the start of December 2019, following raids by troops of the Russian government and Assad regime.
For his family, a new life is about to begin, Mohammed said. "I want Selva to be able to grow up like all the other children, that she can go to school," he said, adding that he hopes that "the war in Syria ends soon, and that we will be able go back home."