BEIRUT (TIP): His face bloodied and completely covered in dust, the little boy sits quietly, staring ahead, dazed and shocked after an apparent air strike in the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Alone in an ambulance, the boy -identified by doctors as five-year-old Omran Daqneesh – tries to wipe the blood off his head, unaware of the injury he has sustained.
Video of children being pulled from the rubble of a building hit by air strikes in Aleppo has been widely circulated on social media, causing upset and condemnation over the harrowing reality of Syria’s five-year war.
The video was shot on Wednesday in the rebel-held al-Qaterji neighbourhood of the city.
It shows an aid worker carrying the little boy out of a building and placing him on a seat inside an ambulance, before rushing back out to the bombed-out scene. The boy sits alone, stunned, before two more children are brought into the vehicle. A man with blood on his face then joins them.
Omran was rescued along with his three siblings, ages 1, 6, and 11, and his mother and father from the rubble of their partially destroyed apartment building. None sustained major injuries, but the building collapsed one hour after the family was rescued. A second building, next to theirs, was also heavily damaged. Rescue workers worked until 5am to retrieve a final victim from the rubble. The victim, who was not identified, survived.
Last year, international sympathy for victims of Syria’s war was heightened by a photo of a drowned 3-year-old refugee from Syria, Alan Kurdi, washed up on a Turkish tourist beach. The image of Aylan, who died when a people smugglers’ boat taking his family and other refugees to a nearby Greek island capsized, swept across social media and was retweeted thousands of times.
Aleppo, split into rebel- and government-controlled areas, has become the focus of fighting in Syria’s five-year conflict.
Rebel-held areas are suffering heavy air strikes daily as pro-government forces try to retake territory lost to rebels two weeks ago in the southwest of Aleppo. The fighting has frustrated the UN’s efforts to fulfill its humanitarian mandate, and the world body’s special envoy to Syria on Thursday cut short a meeting of the ad hoc committee —chaired by Russia and the United States— tasked with deescalating the violence so that relief can reach beleaguered civilians.
The UN envoy, Staffan de Mistura, said there was “no sense” in holding the meeting in light of the obstacles to delivering aid. The UN is hoping to secure a 48-hour pause in the fighting in Aleppo.
More than 290,000 people have been killed and more than half the population has been displaced since Syria’s conflict erupted in March 2011 with anti-government protests that escalated into a brutal multi-front war.