NICOSIA, Cyprus -- No one knows how long little Bushr Al Tawashi wandered alone in the rubble of his home in the Syrian capital before rebel fighters found the toddler and handed him over to another family to look after.
Now, the 2-year-old is back with his parents -- who believed he had been killed.
In their chaotic haste to escape fighting between government troops and Syrian rebels, Bushr's parents had assumed the boy was picked up by other members of their extended family who were staying with them. Heavy fighting prevented the parents from going back to search for Bushr, said Stella Constantinou, a Cypriot lawyer.
Believing he did not survive the shelling, the boy's grief-stricken father, Machhour Al Tawashi, and his wife, Arin Al Dakkar, arrived in Cyprus on Aug. 6 along with two other sons, ages 4 and 6, in search of asylum.
Word the boy was safe eventually reached the parents, who now live in the coastal town of Limassol.
"You can imagine how they felt when they were told their son was alive after bearing all this guilt thinking that he was dead," Constantinou said.
Al Tawashi told The Associated Press through an interpreter that someone had recognized Bushr, since everyone knows each other in their tight-knit community, and called the family in Cyprus to deliver the good news.