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  1. ITV Report

Syrian children's terrifying account of air strike on their family home that left them orphaned

Eight-year-old Islam points to the destroyed property that, until Tuesday afternoon, was his family home. Photo: ITV News

Two young children have told ITV News of the moment an air strike destroyed their home and killed their family, leaving them orphaned.

Tasneem, 10, and Islam, eight, were pulled from the rubble after an assault launched by President Assad's regime.

Both their parents and their brother, four-year-old Rayan, were among six people killed in their housing block in the rebel-held Douma, a suburb in the capital Damascus.

But Tasneem has been left so badly injured from the attack that Islam has not told her of their deaths - because he says she "needs to get better first".

Tasneem had been baking with her mother after school when sirens alerted them to a potential incoming strike on Tuesday afternoon.

She said the family took shelter in their middle living room in the three-storey property but had become so used to the threat that they soon returned to preparing the evening meal.

Tasneem, 10, was knocked unconscious by the air strike Credit: ITV News

"For so long now the planes would come hit something and go," she said, speaking barely 48 hours after the attack while recovering at her uncle's house.

"We didn't know it was going to hit us."

The image of a baby being carried from the rubble of Tuesday's strike has become one of the defining images of the conflict. Credit: Reuters/Bassam Khabieh

A nearby blast brought them back into the middle room again, while her mother demanded their father not risk his life by investigating it.

It was then the direct hit happened, Tasneem said:

The next thing we know, we didn't feel anything and we were on the bottom floor.

My brother was covering in rubble up to his neck and I was completely covered under the rubble.

He heard me shouting. They found my brother (Islam) and he told them 'my sister is here in the rubble'.

They pulled me out screaming.

While Islam escaped with minor injuries, the attack knocked Tasneem unconscious and left her with a broken arm and leg and further wounds to her head, neck and eye.

Tasneem said since the attack she wakes up and thinks she is "in a nightmare".

"My leg is burning me like crazy," she said. "All night I couldn't sleep...I feel like my face is burnt and my face has become scarred."

Islam was helped up into his destroyed home to retrieve family belongings.

Islam had seen Tanseem's hand in the rubble and helped to move rocks to free her.

He also found his brother, but could do nothing.

"I thought Rayan was fine then I found him dead," he said.

Islam searched for toys and games in a bedroom before searching for a bag with photos of his family.

ITV News joined Islam and his adult carers as they returned to his wrecked home.

With his boots fetched and carried up through the destruction, he retrieved toys and games from his bedroom, then went searching for a bag. He said:

I'm looking for the bag with papers in it.

The papers for the house and pictures, pictures of my dad and our pictures. The ones where we were little.

Recalling the attack, Islam said: "We were sitting in our living room and next thing we know the rockets hit our house."

While dealing with her physical injuries, Tasneem is still to learn of her family's fate.

"Tasneem doesn't know yet," Islam explained when away from his sister. "She needs to get better first then we will tell her."

Islam said he has already planned how to break the news to her:

I'll tell her about one of them on a different day.

I'll tell her about my dad first, then Rayan, then Mama.

Tasneem said she had been told her family were in "critical condition" and was praying "nothing happens to them".

She said: "We have no one but them in this world, me and my brother."

Their tale of survival is strikingly contrasted with images of Assad's British-born wife meeting schoolchildren in the same capital city just two days after the fatal air strike.

Asma Assad's rare public appearance came two days after the fatal air strike in Douma. Credit: Reuters/SANA/Handout