Syrian girl, 7, describes surviving the chemical attack

Masa can be seen being tended to by medics in the aftermath of the chemical attack.
Masa can be seen being tended to by medics in the aftermath of the chemical attack. Photo credit: Reuters

A seven-year-old Syrian girl has opened up about surviving the chemical attack that outraged the world.

Masa is from Douma, the last rebel-held city in the Eastern Ghouta region. On April 7 (local time), civilians were attacked with chemical weapons that are believed to have been authorised by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The gassing was met with worldwide condemnation, and prompted a series of military strikes from the United States, France and the United Kingdom.

Young Masa was one of several children seen receiving medical attention in footage that was widely circulated after the attack. 

Now she has told the harrowing story of how she survived.

In a video interview with the BBC, Masa described how she and her family were hiding in the basement when a "barrel" was dropped above them.

"It did not explode but made a 'feesshhh' sound," she said.

Her mother said white smoke began to fill the area and their legs began to feel weak.

"I had a shortness of breath and burning in the nose and chest. There was no oxygen."

Masa explained how the family were told to leave the basement and reach ground.

"We got to the final floor and I fell on the ground. I could not stop it. My mum said to my uncle, 'my daughter, my daughter, my daughter'."

Her uncle carried her upstairs, using a wet cloth to try to remove the poison chemical. Doctors came to the family's aid, carrying Masa and her sister to the nearest medical point.

"They put us on the ground and poured water on us," she told the BBC. "They sprayed us and gave us an injection."

"When we went to sleep, the planes shelled and we were covered in dust."

Masa's mother says three people were killed in the same basement her family sheltered in, and dozens were killed in the cellar next door after they were unable to escape the gas.

"We went back down to the basement and saw how they were bringing the martyrs," Masa said of the horrors she witnessed at such a young age.

"Instead of breathing the air we breathed the smell of blood," she told the BBC.

Those who touched the bodies of the dead began to feel symptoms themselves. The chemical used is suspected to consist of sarin and chlorine.

At least 70 people are believed to have been killed in the attack on Douma.


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