Iraq News

Shot in the face by ISIS, Mosul girl becomes symbol of unity

By Khalid al-Taie

Maryam Ahmad Samir was hit by an 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' sniper as she fled west Mosul with her family. She is set to undergo several surgeries. [Photo courtesy of Mohammed Younis al-Obaidi]

Maryam Ahmad Samir was hit by an 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' sniper as she fled west Mosul with her family. She is set to undergo several surgeries. [Photo courtesy of Mohammed Younis al-Obaidi]

As she fled her home in west Mosul's al-Zanjili neighbourhood with her family, 13-year-old Maryam Ahmed Samir was hit in the face with a bullet fired by an "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) sniper.

On June 1st, Maryam's family and a group of others had been attempting to flee their homes in the city to seek the protection of nearby Iraqi military units.

When Maryam was injured, Iraqi soldiers rushed to administer first aid, and transported her to a hospital in Erbil.

The sniper’s bullet tore between her eyes, penetrating the tissue and bone of the lower part of her forehead, irreparably damaging her right eye and affecting her sinuses, said humanitarian activist Mohammed Younis al-Obaidi.

After performing an initial assessment, the medical team treating Maryam decided to operate as soon as the swelling went down, said al-Obaidi, who has volunteered to oversee her treatment.

Maryam needs three critical surgical procedures, he told Diyaruna.

"First off, the damaged eye will be extracted," he said. "The second procedure will involve repairing the nasal barrier and the respiratory tracts, as well as the mild damage to the left eye."

During the final stage of treatment, Maryam will undergo plastic surgery, which will include bone and skin grafting in the area of injury, he said.

Many hands reach out to help

When Maryam arrived at the hospital in Erbil, al-Obaidi launched an online and social media campaign to request support and urgent aid for her.

"There has been indescribable interest in Maryam’s tragic condition," he said. "Lots of people inside the country and abroad contacted me, asking about her situation and how they can help."

"We received donations from 20 people ranging from $100 to $1,000, and there are some who volunteered to pay for the cost of treatment," he said.

Al-Obaidi said some well-wishers have visited Maryam in the hospital where she is being treated, bringing gifts such as new clothes to express their support and raise her spirits as she undergoes treatment.

Maryam’s father, Ahmed Samir, told Diyaruna he is grateful to everyone who has stood by his daughter.

"I am grateful to everyone that helped save my daughter, Maryam, and asked about how she was doing, and took the trouble to come to the hospital and closely follow her condition," he said.

"This is the true nature of our people, who are always ready to do good and stand together during tough times."

Prayers that she will smile again

Maryam will undergo her first operation after the swelling in her face goes down, her father said.

"I hope everyone prays for her to successfully undergo surgery so she can smile again," he added.

Those who inflicted this injury on his daughter are without conscience, he said.

"What sort of belief would permit terrorists to target children and unarmed civilians?" he asked. "Their end is near, and they will be met with humiliation and death at the hands of our armed forces."

On Saturday (June 10th) Iraqi forces recaptured al-Zanjili, leaving only one district in the grip of ISIS before reaching its strategic stronghold in the Old City.

Meanwhile, Iraqis of all stripes and backgrounds are standing by Maryam, embodying the spirit of national unity, said Ali al-Diwachi, another activist involved in the effort to help Maryam.

Al-Diwachi called on people to continue to donate within their means.

"Maryam is a girl with an iron will and will overcome her injuries and recover so she can remain a symbol of unity and defiance," he said.

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