Syrian family hides from attacks in underground 'prison'
updated 1:19 PM EST, Wed December 5, 2012
- "We go home every two weeks to shower, fearful and terrorized," a mother says
- The Kurdiye family's home is on the front lines of fighting in Aleppo
- It has been hit by artillery fire since the family fled
- Though they hide underground, the Kurdiyes say they choke on dust from bombings
Read a version of this story in Arabic.
Northern Syria (CNN) -- Down a steep stone stairway and into the darkness lies a cold chamber that looks more like a dungeon than a home.
But this is where the Kurdiye family has been hiding from bombardment for four months.
"The strikes were all around us. We just ran out, with nothing," 20-year-old Fatme said. "We just ran and ran down here, and the shrapnel was falling all over."
Read more: Obama warns al-Assad against chemical weapons
Since then, the Kurdiyes have occasionally darted back home to collect belongings.
Syrian refugees' misery
Children fight for food in Aleppo
NATO extends warning to Assad
A Syrian 'opposition Prime Minister'
As Fatme tells her story, another explosion booms from above.
"There would be bombing like that, and we'd come running back here," she said.
The family's home is just five doors away. But it's right in one of Aleppo's front lines in Syria's relentless civil war.
It has been hit by artillery fire since the family fled.
Read more: As fighting subsides, Aleppo residents find little left
"We go home every two weeks to shower, fearful and terrorized," Fatme's mother said. "We have a weak home. It could crumble any moment."
But the last time the family ventured out was three weeks ago.
Fatme and her young sister want to leave to anywhere they can feel the sun and smell fresh air. The chamber is more like a grave sometimes, Fatme's sister says.
But their father refuses.
"Poor but proud," Fatme's father said. He doesn't want to be at the mercy of others.
Here, he can send his son to scrape some money and buy a little food.
Fatme's mother has nightmares her children are dead. She said she feels her heart is going to burst with each explosion.
"I just tell her it's far away and not to be scared," Fatme said.
But sometimes the bombings are so close, family members say they choke on the dust.
"What can we say, we're living in a prison," Fatme said.
But no one knows when the prison sentence will end.
NATO OKs Patriots and delivers warning
Part of complete coverage on
There's more to the Syrian civil war than rebels versus the regime. Syria's neighbors in the Middle East also have a stake in the conflict.
updated 5:13 PM EDT, Thu May 9, 2013
Israel is taking steps to defend itself against threatened retaliation from Syria after claims it launched airstrikes on Damascus.
updated 12:36 PM EDT, Tue May 14, 2013
Domestic political will is a necessary for intervention and polls show Americans are reluctant to support military interventions in Syria.
updated 1:38 PM EDT, Mon May 6, 2013
Syria's claim that Israel launched airstrikes presents a dangerous escalation of Israel's involvement in Syria's war, writes Fawaz Gerges.
updated 5:41 AM EDT, Tue May 7, 2013
The U.N. says a Syrian rebel group may have used a nerve agent -- it would not be the first time the al-Qaeda-affiliated group used chemical weapons.
updated 2:00 PM EDT, Wed May 1, 2013
Having willfully avoided direct military involvement in Syria for the past two years, Obama may not be so lucky anymore, writes Aaron David Miller.
updated 5:44 AM EDT, Fri May 10, 2013
What began as a protest movement became an uprising that metastasized into a war, a vicious whirlpool dragging a whole region toward it.
A devout man prays. A fighter weeps over a slain comrade. These are a few faces of the Syrian conflict captured by photographer LeeHarper.
updated 4:59 AM EDT, Thu April 25, 2013
A group of pro-Syrian regime hackers that has targeted major news organizations but its cyber attacks can have real-life impact.
updated 6:24 PM EST, Thu March 7, 2013
The role of women in Syrian uprising is little reported, but many have played a key part as activists and medics since the bloodshed began.
Are you in Syria? Share your stories, videos and photos with the world on CNN iReport, but please stay safe.