Nightly News   |  August 26, 2013

Syrian refugee tells his story

In a clinic inside Jordan’s Za’atri refugee camp, a little boy who escaped war-torn Syria described what life was like during peaceful times, and how the war changed everything and brought horrifying violence. NBC’s Ann Curry reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> people have become refugees fleeing the war in syria . as we have been reporting a grim milestone reached as well. nearly 1 million of the refugees are children, most under the age of 11. nbc's ann curry made her way today to one of the refugee camps , the biggest, on syria 's border with jordan, bursting at the seams with 130,000 people. ann joins us from amman. ann.

>> reporter: lester, good evening. with the massive numbers and the shocking images of children suffering in an apparent chemical attack , the war in syria appears to be turning an emotional corner capturing the attention of the world. today we found one small syrian boy, one of the one million. in a clinic inside jordan's refugee camp , we found jalal , who barely escaped the war back home.

>> translator: at least 7 years old he looks back on what was once a happy childhood in syria . we used to play ball with our father and go on swings and shoot marbles and ride bicycles he says. but war came to his hometown. [ gunfire ] he tells us we were not allowed to leave the house because snipers would start shooting at us. they would slaughter the men and cut off their fingers or arms and throw their bodies into the schools. six weeks ago playing outside with his 10-year-old brother and friends, something exploded. jalal was hit by shrapnel and watched close friends die. one had his stomach cut open he says the fighting as close as you are from us. we crawled on our bellies or ran. we fell and scraped our knees. sometimes we would start shaking. even our mothers started crying. jalal 's mother, nimad describes their escape.

>> translator: when we heard a sniper was close, we told the children to crawl along. the road. thank god they listened to us and they are safe.

>> reporter: they walked three days leaving jalal 's father a cook to fight as a rebel. they heard from him just once since they left home. now jalal 's mother weeps for all their lost loved ones. today safe in the camp, jalal gets a chance to be a kid again. but at night he says it's hard to sleep. he dreams of his father and cries.

>> reporter: jalal 's story is one glimpse into this war's tragedy for syria 's children. meantime, the crisis has outpaced the world's response making for very tough conditions inside those refugee camps . today we witness several hundred syrian refugees leaving the refugee camp to go back to syria . one saying "i would rather die under shell fire than live in this camp." lester.

>> ann curry in amman. thank you.