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4 Aug, 2016 16:18

Woman in Aleppo shields children against explosion, loses leg & hand

A woman was seriously injured when a huge explosion rocked her relatives’ house in Aleppo, Syria. She heard a terrible roar outside and rushed to cover her daughter and son from the bomb. Saving their lives cost her a leg and a hand.

UPDATE:The woman was initially described as Russian in this article. Clarification shows she is, in fact, a Russian-speaking Ukrainian citizen.

Irina Barakyat, a Ukrainian citizen, is married to a Syrian man and has been living in Aleppo for the past 13 years. She was asked by her mother-in-law to come by to give an injection to her husband, who recently had a stroke. Barakyat agreed, taking her three children with her with a plan to stay overnight.

“When we woke up in the morning, I heard a terrible roar. I've never heard anything like that before. I realized I had to act without losing any time. My elder son and daughter stood nearby. I jumped on them, stretching my arm and leg, covering my kids. I heard a rumble, then saw my father-in-law lying on the floor. He was not breathing. My mother-in-law was injured. My children stayed alive because I had covered them. My son only broke a limb, and my daughter didn't sustain any injuries. My middle son had been sleeping in his room when the bomb went off.”

Barakyat had her right leg amputated below the knee. Her left leg also sustained serious injuries, but will heal, her doctor says. She also had to part with her hand.

The injured woman says she doesn't want her five-year-old daughter and two sons, aged 13 and 10, to visit her in hospital.

“I don't want them to see me in this state,” she says, looking exhausted and frail. “My daughter is at my friend's place. My sons are staying with their uncle.” Barakyat's friends want to send her to Russia to get better treatment at a hospital in Moscow.

Last week, Russia and Syria launched a large-scale humanitarian operation for Aleppo residents, opening three humanitarian corridors for civilians and one for the passage of fighters.

Opposition fighters willing to “lay down arms” were promised amnesty by Syrian government forces. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu noted that the fourth corridor was set up only because the US failed to provide Russia with data on Al-Nusra Front terrorist group, which has recently been attempting to merge with other armed opposition groups in Syria.

At least seven civilians died and 25 more were injured on Tuesday as terrorists fired shells, some containing toxic gas, at Aleppo, local health officials said as cited by Syria’s official SANA news agency. The shelling occurred amid an ongoing humanitarian crisis in the city. The violence comes amid a dire humanitarian crisis in Aleppo which “is on the verge of running out of food and other essential supplies,” a recent statement by Amnesty International said.

Despite the increasing number of settlements adhering to the Russia-US brokered ceasefire regime, which came into force on February 27 this year, not all the groups claiming to belong to the “moderate” opposition are observing the truce. In June, militants from an Al-Qaeda-linked group, Jaysh Al-Islam, shelled a UN humanitarian convoy near Damascus, according to reports from the Russian Defense Ministry.