May 2, 2008— -- Just like any other day, the Hussein family was getting ready for lunch at their home in Baghdad, Iraq, when the house suddenly shook and the brick walls came down around them.
That was the dramatic account told to ABC News by the parents of 2-year-old Ali Hussein, the Iraqi boy killed during a fierce battle in Sadr City Tuesday.
Dramatic photographs of Hussein's dust-covered body being pulled out of the rubble of his home appeared on front pages and TV news reports around the world.
When a U.S. patrol in the Shiite militia stronghold was fired on by a dozen fighters, American forces fired 200-pound guided rockets that devastated at least three buildings in the district.
The U.S. military said 28 militiamen were killed. Local hospital officials said dozens of civilians were killed or wounded.
Hussein's mother recounted being buried in rubble and crawling around the home, looking for her children.
"I was crying, 'My children, my children.' I saw the house destroyed. I did not know if they are alive or not."
When Hussein's father could not locate Ali, he said he began frantically digging.
"Everyone felt desperate and the police have left the scene, but I kept on digging. I told them I will not leave my son. I will take him out. I felt fainted after two hours of digging."
The fire brigade arrived to help him find Ali and remove him from the house, according to Hussein's father.
"They gave him to me, run to the ambulance, I hold his hand in the ambulance and it was cold. They made the first aid thing to the kid, open his eye, the rescuer looked at me, I told him you're a believer, and accepts the results."
Hussein's father recalled how over the last month and a half the boy used to come to the main door of the house, wanting to go out and play.
"Ali was pushing against my legs and tell me, 'Baba, Baba.' He wanted to go out, and I did not let him out due to the military actions ongoing."
"Ali was 2 years old, still future was in front of him. Ali, if he has an opinion, he would have said, 'I do not want to interfere in the struggle.,"