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Seven-year-old tweeting from war torn Aleppo 'doing well' after family flees army advance

Aleppo in Syria is the centre of fierce fighting.

A SEVEN-YEAR-old Syrian girl whose Twitter account from Aleppo gained international attention has fled her home amid heavy fighting, but she and her family are safe for now, according to her father.

With her mother’s help, Bana al-Abed had been posting heart-rending tweets in English on life in the besieged eastern districts of Syria’s Aleppo.

But as Syrian government forces edged closer to their home in recent days, the Abed family fled and the Twitter updates slowed.

“Our house was damaged in bombardment,” her father Ghassan told AFP by phone from east Aleppo, two-thirds of which has been seized by advancing government forces.

“The army got really close to our neighbourhood. We fled to another part of east Aleppo and the family is doing well,” he said, adding that “the internet connection is very weak here”.

Since late September, Bana and her mother Fatemah have garnered more than 211,000 followers by tweeting regular updates on battered Aleppo.

Pictures of massive white columns of smoke, captioned “Aleppo right now. We (are) so scared,” are interspersed with shots of Bana reading or scrawling in a notebook.

The account captured the attention of novelist JK Rowling, who responded to a picture of Bana poring over an electronic copy of the “Harry Potter” series.

‘Stalling’ 

Meanwhile, Russia’s top diplomat has accused Washington of backtracking on planned talks in Geneva over a rebel pullout from Syria’s Aleppo to “buy time” for those battling leader Bashar al-Assad.

“It looks like an attempt to buy time for the rebels to have a breather, take a pause and replenish their reserves,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists.

He also said Moscow had the impression “a serious discussion with our American partners isn’t working out”.

Lavrov said yesterday that Russian and US experts were to meet in Switzerland either today or tomorrow to discuss a proposal put forward by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Kerry proposed last week a complete rebel withdrawal from the war-torn eastern sector of Syria’s second city.

But today he acknowledged that Washington had said it would not take part in  tomorrow’s talks and had withdrawn the suggestions made by Kerry.

Rebels in east Aleppo have already dismissed any talk of them withdrawing, but Lavrov said they risked being annihilated if they refused to pull out following any deal between Russia and the US.

Russia and the US are on opposite sides of the conflict in Syria with Moscow backing Assad with airpower and Washington pushing for the strongman to go.

Regime forces have so far seized two-thirds of Aleppo’s rebel-held east since starting an operation to recapture the entire city in mid-November.

The assault has raised an international outcry, but Russia and China on yesterday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution calling for a seven-day ceasefire in the city.

- © AFP, 2016

Read: Seven-year-old Syrian girl’s Twitter account disappears as Assad’s forces close in

Read: Seven-year-old girl tweets of being “between death and life” as Aleppo on verge of falling

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