After two months of hiding underground in Syria’s Douma, Leena Karkura has finally dared to venture out into the sunshine and walk around her devastated hometown with her daughter.
Syria’s army announced on Saturday it had retaken the town and surrounding region of Eastern Ghouta from rebels after a Russia-backed military offensive that lasted almost two months.
“I decided to take my daughter out for a stroll after she insisted and cried,” the woman in her forties told AFP on a tour of the town organised by the Syrian army for foreign media.
She said her nine-year-old daughter was desperate to venture outdoors and breathe some fresh air after weeks hiding from air strikes and bombardments in a cellar with her family.
’t have a childhood,” Karkura said, clutching the hand of her daughter dressed up for her walk in a red tracksuit.
“I told her it was safe again and nothing would happen to her,” she said, as she looked at the rubble around her.
“We’re breathing a sigh of relief.”
Eastern Ghouta had been the last rebel bastion on the capital’s doorstep before the army launched a blistering assault on the region in mid-February that, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, killed some 1,700 civilians.
Its main town of Douma was the final holdout in the offensive, and was retaken after thousands of rebels and civilians were bussed out under a Russia-brokered evacuation deal.