Middle East

Syria: Sister grabbing baby dangling from bombed building

Amjad al-Abdullah scambled to rescue his two young daughters trapped below him when their building was struck in an airstrike Image copyright SF-24
Image caption Amjad al-Abdullah scrambled to rescue his two young daughters trapped below him when their building was struck in an air strike

A striking picture of a five-year-old girl grabbing her dangling sister's T-shirt after air strikes in northern Syria has circulated on social media.

The girls' horrified father is shown scrambling to rescue his daughters from the building's rubble in Ariha, Idlib, after government bombing of the town on Wednesday.

"He [the photographer] couldn't see anything at first because of the rubble and dust - but then he heard the sounds of babies, children, and the father," media outlet SY-24 told BBC News.

Warning: This article contains a distressing image and video

It has brought attention back to the war in Syria, where the Russian-backed government is trying to recapture Idlib from rebels and jihadists.

The UN said last week that more than 350 civilians had been killed and 330,000 forced to flee their homes since fighting in northern Syria escalated on 29 April.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption A wheelchair in the rubble of destroyed buildings in Ariha on Wednesday

Journalist Bashar al-Sheikh filmed the family trapped in the rubble when covering the air strikes on Ariha, before stopping to help them.

Moments later, the building collapsed, further injuring the trapped children, five-year-old Riham and seven-month-old Tuqa.

Image copyright SY-24
Image caption Five-year-old Riham died after grabbing on to her baby sister, Tuqa, after their building was struck in air strikes

The girls were freed from the ruins and after being taken initially to a local clinic, they were transferred to a larger hospital in Idlib.

Riham died from her injuries and her baby sister remains in the intensive care unit, according to SY-24.

Their father has been identified as Amjad al-Abdullah, from Ariha. His wife, Asmaa Naqouhl, was killed at the scene.

The Syria Civil Defence, whose volunteer first responders are widely known as the White Helmets, said they rescued another young man from the ruins of his house.

On Wednesday, 20 civilians, including five children, died in air strikes on at least three areas of the province, according to the UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Russian air strikes had killed 10 people from one family, including three children, in Khan-Sheikun, it said.

It is unclear how the group identified the attacking planes as Russian.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionDr Murhaf: "We need to know more about surgery for war zone children"

On Monday, at least 31 civilians were killed in rebel-held town Maarat al-Numan when warplanes targeted a market and residential areas.

Idlib, northern Hama and western Aleppo province make up the last opposition stronghold in Syria after eight years of civil war.

It is supposedly covered by a truce brokered in September by Russia and opposition-backer Turkey that spared the 2.7 million civilians living there from a major government offensive.

The photograph is the latest in a series of shocking pictures that have focused the world's attention on Syria.

Pictures of drowned toddler Alan Kurdi on a beach in Turkey shocked the world in 2015, leading to promises from global leaders to address the Syrian refugee crisis.

In 2016 a photograph of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh bloodied and stunned in the back of ambulance during the battle for northern city Aleppo caused outrage.

He has since been pictured in his new home with his family.