A father living in bomb-ravaged western Syria has taught his three-year-old daughter to laugh when she hears a bomb fall.
Syrian Abdullah Al-Mohammad, 32, lives in Sarmada, a province of the city of Idlib, with his daughter, Salwa, and wife.
In a post on Twitter, the father demonstrated the game which he has devised to protect his daughter from the ‘psychological crisis’ caused by near-constant explosions.
Syrian father Abdullah Al-Mohammad, 32, has devised a game to make his daughter laugh every time a bomb lands near them in the city of Idlib, Syria
Mr Al-Mohammad is living with a friend in Sarmada after he and his family were forced to flee their own home, in the neighbouring Saraqib area of Idlib, because of the Syrian civil war.
The conflict is thought to have displaced 700,000 civilians from the city since December. Idlib province is home to some 3million people.
In the video showing the game, Mr Al-Mohammad is seen sitting down with his daughter perched alongside him.
As a rumbling sound gets louder, he asks her: ‘Is this a jet or a bomb?’
She then replies: ‘A bomb, when it comes we will laugh.’
The video then captures the imposing sound of a bomb falling, prompting the little girl to burst into fits of laughter.
Mr Al-Mohammad adds: ‘Does it make you laugh?’
In a post on Twitter, the father demonstrated the game which he has devised to protect his daughter from the ‘psychological crisis’ caused by near-constant explosions
‘Yes, it is funny,’ Salwa replies.
The 32-year-old told Sky News that he said he devised the game to stop his daughter’s ‘psychological state from collapsing’.
‘She is a child who does not understand war,’ he said.
‘I decided to teach Salwa this game to prevent her psychological state from collapsing. So as to not be affected by diseases relating to fear.’
The father added that he wanted to turn the sound of the bombs into a ‘source of happiness’.
He told Al Jazeera that children in the neighbourhood used to play with bang snaps which made a loud noise when thrown on the ground.
When Salwa got scared when they were used during the Muslim festival of Eid, he showed her that it was ‘just a toy’.
He said he used the same ‘pretext’ to convince his daughter that the bombing was ‘just a game’
The video, which Mr Al-Mohammad shared on his Twitter account, has been shared thousands of times and has received more than 4,000 likes.
‘I needed to remove the fear from her heart,’ the father added.
As the sound of an approaching bomb gets louder, the father says, ‘it is a jet or bomb?’ His daughter replies ‘a bomb, when it comes we will laugh’
‘I wanted her to associate these loud, frightening sounds to something that is light and amusing.’
However, Mr Al-Mohammed said he is worried that if the shelling continues as she gets older, his game will ‘no longer be enough’ to protect her mental state.
‘I want the world to know: We’re not terrorists as the regime paints us out to be,’ he said.
Syrian troops have been on the offensive for weeks in Idlib province, which is the last stronghold of rebels opposed to president Bashar Al-Assad.
Last week, Assad’s forces moved to secure areas along a key highway they seized from jihadists and allied.
Last Friday, they pushed west of the M5 motorway which connects Syria’s four largest cities and is economically vital for the government.
And five Turkish soldiers were killed in a government attack – prompting Ankara to retaliate with strikes on 115 government positions.
Last Wednesday, Turkey’s president Erdogan threatened to strike Syrian regime forces ‘everywhere’ if his soldiers were harmed.
Turkey fears an influx of displaced people across its border with Syria and has boosted its own military presence in the region.
Russia, which supports Assad, has accused Turkey of flouting agreements it made with Moscow.
Opposition fighters say Syria and Russia have adopted a ‘scorched earth campaign’ that drove them from areas along the highway.