Skip to main content

'Innocence' survives 11 hours under bomb rubble in Syria

By Ben Brumfield and Amir Ahmed, CNN
updated 6:05 PM EST, Sat January 19, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A girl and her mother hide in a basement during days of bombardment
  • Daraya, Syria, is home to government ministries and an important military airport
  • Rebels and Bashar al-Assad's forces are fighting a bitter battle for control of the town
  • A bomb hits the girl's building, then everything goes black

(CNN) -- "Innocence" lay for 11 hours in the rubble of a building flattened by an aerial bombing Saturday until neighbors dug her out alive.

"What's your name?" a medic asked the teenager while sitting her up straight on the gurney of an underground rebel hospital. It was a miracle that she suffered only some scrapes, bruises, a bloody nose and a broken arm.

She was wide awake and talkative. "Baraa," she answered. In Arabic, her name means "Innocence."

Baraa and her mother lived near the National Hospital in Daraya, barely south of Damascus. The town, home to government ministries and a key military airport, is the scene of bitter fighting between rebel and government forces.

Homes, people bombed in Syria
What happened in Homs?
Report ties Syrian rebels to al Qaeda
The struggles for Syrian Kurds

Opposition fighters have dug in deep there with a system of foxholes, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's military has for weeks tried to smoke them out.

Syria's 'urban refugees' struggle for survival

Baraa said she and her mother heard that al-Assad's forces were advancing and wanted to flee but changed their minds and hid in the basement of a building in town.

"Some people told us that the structure of the building was not that strong," she told the medics in a video posted by opposition activists to YouTube. "But we stayed there for three days."

Rockets hammered the area every day, and Baraa learned that one of her neighbors had died. Then she heard a warplane soaring overhead. The rebels don't have that kind of military hardware -- captured tanks at best.

Bombs thundered down nearby. Then all went black.

"The plane threw a barrel bomb on us," she said. "The last thing I saw was a red flash like fire. After that, it was complete darkness."

She lay in the basement, buried alive in the building's rubble.

The gruesome toll of deadly cluster bombs in Syria

"How were you breathing?" someone asked.

"I was hardly breathing," Baraa answered after a medic thoroughly scrubbed debris and blood from her mouth and nose.

"How many (people) were in the basement with you?"

"30."

Children?

"About 14," Baraa said. "The oldest was 11."

"Did you have any siblings among them?"

"Yes, three siblings: one 11 years old, the second was 9, and the third was 2½ years old."

All three died in that basement, she said. Twenty-eight people perished in all, according to Baraa.

But Baraa is luckily not alone. Her mother survived, too.

By day's end Saturday, 136 people had died in Syria, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition network. CNN could not independently verify the group's claim that 47 died in Damascus and its suburbs.

Inside Syria: 'Is there a worse way to live than this?'

CNN's Hamdi Alkhshali contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Syrian crisis
updated 8:28 AM EST, Tue March 4, 2014
Syria has submitted a revised proposal "that aims to complete the removal of all chemicals" from the country before the end of April.
updated 5:32 AM EST, Tue February 18, 2014
CNN's Arwa Damon reports on ISIS defector who says destroying ISIS as critical as defeating regime.
updated 10:53 PM EST, Mon February 17, 2014
The U.S. wants a United Nations resolution that will, among other things, bring humanitarian aid for refugees in Syria.
updated 7:59 AM EST, Mon February 17, 2014
When the radical Islamist militia ISIS arrived in the Syrian town of Addana a year ago, many welcomed them. What followed changed their minds.
updated 9:49 AM EST, Mon February 17, 2014
CNN obtained video clips from Syrian activists documenting the atrocities committed by members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, known as ISIS.
updated 3:17 PM EST, Tue February 18, 2014
On Crossfire, Danielle Pletka discusses what the U.S. needs to do to resolve the Syria crisis.
updated 8:01 PM EST, Wed February 5, 2014
Her almond-shaped brown eyes shine through her sunken face as a doctor lifts her sweater to reveal a tiny rib cage pushing against her skin.
updated 12:46 PM EST, Tue February 4, 2014
The Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan is home to around 100,000 Syrian refugees. CNN spent several days meeting the residents of the camp.
updated 2:59 PM EST, Wed January 22, 2014
Renowned war crimes prosecutors and forensic experts have found "direct evidence" of "torture and killing" by the Assad regime.
Traumatized children who have witnessed the horrors of war are being helped to read -- and rebuild a normal life. CNN's Becky Anderson reports.
updated 7:07 AM EST, Thu January 23, 2014
A battle zone tour organized by the Syrian government for CNN and several other media outlets Wednesday was more than bizarre.
updated 12:35 PM EST, Wed January 22, 2014
CNN's Atika Shubert meets with the family of a little girl who was wounded in Syria, now living in a refugee camp.
updated 9:56 AM EST, Mon January 27, 2014
110 year old, Jabari Alawali walked for over 10 hours to reach Jordan from Syria.
ADVERTISEMENT