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American woman trapped in Eastern Ghouta urges action from Trump

At least 1,162 civilians have been killed, including 241 children, in Eastern Ghouta. [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 March, 2018

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Deana Lynn, from Detroit, Michigan, and her family are among nearly 400,000 people who are trapped in Eastern Ghouta.

An American woman living in the besieged Syrian enclave of Eastern Ghouta on Monday called on US President Donald Trump to put pressure on Russia to end its deadly bombing campaign.

Since the escalation of the Russian-backed Syrian regime military offensive against Eastern Ghouta on 18 February, over 1,031 civilians have been killed, including 219 children. 

Deana Lynn, from Detroit, Michigan, and her family are among nearly 400,000 people who are trapped in Eastern Ghouta, surviving on limited amounts of food and spending most of their time squeezed into underground shelters.

Lynn moved to Eastern Ghouta with her Syrian husband in 2000 to be close to his elderly parents.

"It's been horrifying, especially (that) I have small children and grandchildren," the 44-year-old woman told The Associated Press via the WhatsApp messaging service.

"We've been taking shelter in basements. We go up and downstairs," she said. "We go upstairs to eat, to cook. We have to go upstairs to use the bathroom."

'Targeting civilians'

The mother of eight – seven daughters and one son – has been working as an English-language teacher in a town in Eastern Ghouta.

Since the bombing campaign intensified Lynn and her family have been barricading themselves in the basement, rarely emerging for fear they will be hit by airstrikes or shelling.

Lynn met her husband in the 1990s while she was studying English literature at the University of Michigan and he was on a visit to the United States. Five of their eight children were born in the US, while their four grandchildren were all born in Syria.

"Right now we're eating whatever is available," Lynn said. "We're trying to make it last longer by making soup, so we put a small amount of rice or wheat in." She said her family is fortunate to still have some food stored up.

"Other people are not so lucky. They couldn't store food because they didn’t have enough money, so really they’re hungry. They're trying to just live," she said. She said a kilogram of rice or wheat is about $8 and that the price could go up at any time.

'Put pressure on Russia'

She sent a photograph from the basement showing two of her grandchildren sitting on her lap. She has also posted videos on YouTube to tell the world about the suffering in Ghouta.

In one of the videos, she is seen standing in an apartment near an open window, when the sound of a warplane is heard right before a shell slams down outside.

"The children are horrified when they hear the intense bombing, especially when they are close to our homes. They cry or they scream. Grown women, they cry and scream," she said.

She said that sometimes the shelling starts unexpectedly.

"We would be upstairs cooking or using the bathroom and we have to run downstairs, and we hope a bomb doesn't fall," she said.

"I am just a schoolteacher here. I am just a regular person living a daily life. My message to the United States, to President Trump, I wish he could put pressure on the Russian government to stop sending their warplanes here and bombing us."

Lynn said Assad's forces and Russian warplanes "are purposely hitting civilian targets, they're hitting medical centres, they're hitting basements which are shelters for a lot of people."

She said the family remained in Eastern Ghouta after the Arab Spring uprising began because they hoped things would change. Later, as the civil war escalated, they stayed because they feared losing their home and property.

"We didn't want to leave this place that my children were raised in," she said.

"This is their home and this is their property. They shouldn't be forced to leave or evacuate their homes," she said.

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