Channel 4 News filmmaker Waad Al Kateab, who was trapped in Aleppo as the city came under siege from regime forces in the run up to Christmas, is now safely living in Turkey.
The pregnant mother-of-one made it out of the Syrian city, along with her husband and 11-month-old daughter, on the very last bus laid on by Assad’s government to aid in the evacuation of civilians.
The family, who had been living in Aleppo and sheltering with a team of doctors and nurses, spent Christmas in the rebel-held Idlib province between the city and the Turkish border following their escape.
Channel 4 News editor Ben de Pear told Press Gazette: “Waad and her family really were on the last bus to get out of Aleppo and we know that they and the other doctors and activists and journalists in the city were the number one target of the Assad Regime.
“It took everything to facilitate their exit from Aleppo. The government put down more obstacles for doctors, activists and journalists leaving than they did fighters, because they are obviously more valuable.”
Kateab, who was born in Syria and studied at Aleppo University, has worked for the channel since January. Her reports showing life in the besieged city of Aleppo have won her acclaim, including the prize for Foreign Affairs Journalism at last year’s British Journalism Awards.
As the siege progressed, communications with Kateab became cut off. In one of the last messages to journalists, she told of how she was “hugging her baby daughter who is terrified by the noise as the bombs fall”.
The filmmaker’s exact whereabouts in Turkey is being withheld for her own safety, but the Channel 4 News team is said to be in contact with her while she recuperates.
“We are fully engaged with her but we are giving her a bit of time to recharge,” said De Pear. “We are hopeful that she will continue her work with us because she is a fantastic journalist and an amazing filmmaker. We are great admirers of hers.”
He added: “One of the things about Waad was that she was a messenger. She filmed what was going on and she got scenes as they were happening. She very rarely asked questions. She was basically providing us with the best witness testimony to what was going on in Aleppo.”
Channel 4 News journalists are said to be carrying out an interview with Kateab about her ordeal in the coming weeks, ahead of broadcasting it at a later date.