‘Between two deaths’

Girl, 7, and twin sister survive chemical attack, become new faces of crisis in Syria

Last week, a deadly chemical attack, allegedly launched by the Syrian regime, claimed the lives of more than 80 people in Douma, an enclave of Damascus. Among those who were able to escape were 7-year-old twins Masa and Malaz. A photo of a distraught Masa appeared on the cover of the April 15 edition of The Sunday Times of London under the headline, “The little girl who set the West on the path to war.” She has effectively become the new face of the tragic crisis that has been unfolding in Syria for the majority of the young twins’ lives. They were two months old when civil war broke out there and has devastated the country ever since.

Their mother described the horror of the attack in an interview with CNN, and how they made it out alive. Speaking from a refugee camp near Syria’s border with Turkey, Umm Nour, the girls’ 34-year-old mother, said the family was living in a basement and was underground when the chemicals hit. She has also been identified as Amani in other news reports.

“I felt my throat close, my body go limp as if I had just had everything sucked out of me,” she said. Umm Nour grabbed her daughters and dragged them up the stairs. But when they reached the fourth floor, the building was hit subjected to further assault, by either artillery or rockets. Malaz appeared shy on camera and, through an interpreter, told CNN, “We smelled something,” after the bomb hit. She and her sister both wore matching Minnie Mouse T-shirts and carried Dora the Explorer backpacks.

“It was like we were between two deaths,” Umm Nour told CNN. “The chemical attack on the lower floors or the other strikes hitting the upper ones.” She said family made it to a clinic in time to receiving antidote injections that proved life-saving, but many didn’t escape alive.

Now, CNN reports, the girls want to become doctors when they get older, so they can help children who have been wounded. Watch the interview with the girls and their mother below.

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