Middle East

Battle for Aleppo: Photo of shocked and bloodied Syrian five-year-old sparks outrage

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Media captionWatch: The footage shows Omran in the back of an ambulance. The surgeon who treated him tells the BBC about his condition.

A photograph of a dazed and bloodied Syrian boy rescued from a destroyed building in Aleppo after an air strike has caused outrage around the world.

Images of the boy sitting in an ambulance were released by activists and have since been shared widely on social media.

He was identified as five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, who was treated for head wounds on Wednesday, doctors said.

His parents and three siblings are believed to have survived the attack.

The pro-opposition Aleppo Media Centre said the pictures of Omran had been taken in the rebel-held Qaterji district late on Wednesday, reportedly following Russian air strikes that killed at least three people and injured 12 others.

The video shows the boy being carried out of a damaged building by a medic and then placed on a seat in the back of an ambulance, covered in dust and with a blood-covered face.

Omran is then left sitting quietly, appearing stunned by the ordeal. He runs his hand over his face and looks at the blood before wiping it on the seat.

Omran's picture has already led to comparisons with another disturbing image, that of three-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi whose body was washed up on a Turkish beach after his family attempted to cross to Greece.

Image copyright Twitter / @khalidalbaih

Fighting between government and rebel forces has escalated in recent weeks in Aleppo, once Syria's commercial and industrial hub, leaving hundreds dead.

Russia said it was ready to stop military operations in the city for a 48-hour period as early as next week after UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura pleaded for a "gesture of humanity" to allow aid deliveries to hundreds of thousands of people trapped there.

No aid has been delivered to besieged areas since the beginning of the month.

'The horror of Aleppo'

Omran was pulled from the remains of a destroyed block of flats along with his parents and three siblings, aged one, six and 11, Al Jazeera Mubashir journalist Mahmoud Raslan told AP news agency.

"We were passing them from one balcony to the other," Mr Raslan - who took the photo - said, adding that he had been handed three lifeless bodies before receiving the injured boy.

Doctors said Omran was treated for head injuries and later discharged and none of his family sustained major injuries.

Image copyright Twitter / @aboyosha3homs
Image caption Omran's photo has been superimposed onto Syria's empty seat at a meeting of the Arab League
Image copyright @rafsanchez

The shell-shocked boy's image has prompted an outpouring of anger at the continuing fighting.

"The stunned, bloodied face of a child survivor sums up the horror of Aleppo," tweeted Adib Shishakly, a member of the opposition Syrian National Council.

Turkish-based commentator Omar Madaniah wrote: "A boy has come out from underneath the rubble in Aleppo after Russian airplanes targeted him. This is the terrorist that all states are uniting against."

Saudi media figure Jamal Khashoggi tweeted: "It is as if he is sitting at the Arab summit or the Security Council chiding those who are silent with his own silence and looks."

More than 250,000 people have died in almost five years of war in Syria, with a further 11 million people displaced by the conflict, according to the UN.


Diplomacy sidelined - Imogen Foulkes, BBC News, Geneva

Staffan de Mistura is, even in the face of the enormous diplomatic challenge of bringing peace to Syria, normally a genial man. Not on Thursday.

He was visibly angry as he described how he had suspended the humanitarian task force after just eight minutes. There was no sense in meeting, he said, when no aid had been delivered to any besieged areas since the beginning of August. This is despite weeks of pleas from senior aid officials.

The move by Mr de Mistura may be seen as measure of last resort. Since no negotiations are taking place, the UN may be hoping to shame the warring parties - and their backers like the United States and Russia - into, at the very least, a pause in fighting to allow aid in. But as the battle for Aleppo rages, the UN's diplomacy in Syria looks increasingly sidelined.


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