Bana Alabed, the 7-year-old girl whose tweets from rebel-held eastern Aleppo in Syria captivated people around the world, appears to be in mortal danger, according to the most recent posts to her Twitter account.
Despite frequently tweeting multiple times a day, she spent almost 24 hours off the social media site over the weekend. Finally, her mother Fatemah sent a tweet late Monday that read:
The silence had caused concern among her watchers. The final tweet before the account went silent for a time, sent by her mother, read:
Bana has more than 200,000 Twitter followers, and her family had been documenting their lives in the besieged eastern part of the city online.
Shortly after Bana’s account went dark, other Twitter users began using the hashtag #whereisBana, asking what had become of the young girl and her family and sharing messages of support. Author J.K. Rowling, who began communicating with the family when she was asked by Fatemah for a copy of a Harry Potter book, retweeted a number of tweets with the hasthag.
More than 30,000 people have fled Aleppo since the latest government offensive began last month, joining the more than 10 million Syrians - nearly half the population - who have fled their homes since the conflict began.
The city became the epicenter of Syria’s civil war when the rebels captured the eastern districts in the summer of 2012.
The city has been fiercely contested since then, and earlier this year government forces fully besieged rebel-held eastern Aleppo, where nearly every hospital has been destroyed, and so many people have been killed that there are few places left to bury them.
The rebels are finally buckling under the pressure. They have been retreating for more than a week, though a prolonged battle is expected in the narrow streets of Aleppo’s Old City.