Louise Monaghan, who risked her life to rescue her six-year-old daughter from Syria, has said that people-smugglers helped them escape the war-torn country.

The 36-year-old mother rescued her daughter May Assad Monaghan after she was snatched by her father, reports the Independent.

Monaghan, who is originally from Swords in Co Dublin, met her ex-husband Mostafa Assad in Cyprus. The couple had daughter May, but eventually split.

May went for a walk with her father on September 7 and never returned. Her father had kidnapped her and taken her to his family home in Syria. Assad then contacted Monaghan and told her to sell all her possessions in Cyprus, where she was living, and move to Syria to live the life of a Muslim woman.


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Monaghan decided to stay calm "and play the game" with her husband, agreeing to his demands. A few days later, she was reunited with her daughter in Syria. While there, Monaghan was locked inside Assad's family home.

Monaghan saw an opportunity to escape one day when she and May were left alone in a taxi. She took her daughter by the hand and they fled. She paid another taxi €350 for another taxi to take them through nine checkpoints, to Damascus. There, after every legal route available to them failed, Monaghan hired people-smugglers to take them across sheer mountain faces to Lebanon.

"It was pitch dark," said Monaghan. "We climbed over mountains for hours.

"I don't understand how we made did it. We literally climbed up sheer mountain faces and back down inclines."

The mother and daughter made it safely to the other side in Lebanon.

"We got down eventually and there was a 4x4 waiting for us. On the journey to a safehouse in Lebanon, May said to me, 'Mammy, there are loads of handguns on the floor.' I said: 'Don't touch anything, just look straight ahead'."

Said Monaghan: "I couldn't bear the thoughts of her having to stay in that country and live like that."

She added that she is now considering entering a witness protection program to protect her daughter.