A child in the besieged eastern part of Aleppo had her wish to read the Harry Potter series come true after receiving ebooks from JK Rowling's agent.
Bana al-Abed is a seven-year-old Syrian girl whose mother, Fatemah, manages a Twitter account informing the world about the situation in the war-torn city. Fatemah contacted the Harry Potter author via the social media platform on 21 November, saying they watched the Harry Potter films and Bana would like to read the book.
Rowling, who maintains an active presence on Twitter and often responds to messages sent to her by her fans, replied: "Bana, I hope you do read the book, because I think you'd like it. Sending you lots and lots of love."
Her agent Neil Blair from The Blair Partnership then suggested sending an ebook because of the logistical difficulties in sending a physical copy to the besieged city. The Blair Partnership did not immediately reply to a request for comment from IBTimes UK.
Bana tweeted a photo of herself on 23 November thanking Rowling for the books, to which the author replied: "Love you too, Bana! Thinking of you, keep safe Aleppo!"
The woman and her daughter regularly post pictures and videos with updates on life in Aleppo. One of the first photos of Bana tweeted in September shows her reading a book "to forget the war". In another tweet, Bana said: "I need peace to become a teacher".
Bana's mother Fatemah, who asked not to reveal her surname for security reasons, said in an interview to NBC she opened the Twitter account "so that the voice of the children of Aleppo can be heard".
On Sunday (20 November), a livestream video saw little Bana explaining that food, water and medicine supplies were running out and that the bombing was relentless. "The bombing does not stop, all the time," she said ."Aleppo is dying and the world is watching. Where is humanity?" During the video, the sound of bombs hitting the city could be heard in the background.
The UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has expressed concerns over the situation in Aleppo, where around 250,000 people have been under siege since July. The Syrian airforce, acting under the command of President Bashar al-Assad with the support for Russian military, resumed heavy bombing on Aleppo after a three-week suspension. Hospitals and schools have been hit by bombs several times.
De Mistura said he was worried a new offensive could destroy eastern Aleppo before the inauguration of US President-elect Donald Trump in January 2017. "We are very concerned [about the possibility of Assad]... taking over in a brutal aggressive way what is left of eastern Aleppo," De Mistura told a group of German Social Democratic lawmakers on 22 November, as reported by Reuters.
According to reports, De Mistura joined German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in calling for an end to the bombardment of civilians in Syria and a political solution to the five-year-long conflict.
The government-held western part of the city has also been subject to a brutal offensive from anti-Assad rebels, which have attacked schools as well as other civilian targets.