A shocked Syrian boy pictured sitting in an ambulance covered in blood and dust after an air strike became a symbol of civilian suffering in Aleppo yesterday, drawing worldwide attention.
As international concern mounted, President Bashar al-Assad’s key ally Russia said it was ready to halt fire in the battleground northern city for 48-hour “humanitarian pauses” from next week.
The announcement followed pleas from the United Nations and the European Union for a halt in the fighting in divided Aleppo to allow aid deliveries.
The haunting image of four-year-old Omran sitting dazed and bloodied in an ambulance reverberated around the globe, much like the photo of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi whose body washed ashore on a Turkish beach last year.
Omran was pulled from the rubble after an air raid on Wednesday in the rebel-held district of Qaterji in the southeast of Aleppo, which has been devastated by the five-year war.
“I’ve taken a lot of pictures of children killed or wounded in the strikes that rain down daily,” said photographer Mahmoud Rslan who captured the image.
“Usually they are either unconscious or crying. But Omran was there, speechless, staring blankly, as if he did not quite understand what had happened to him,” he told AFP by telephone.
Opposition-held neighbourhoods in the city are frequently targeted by air strikes including barrel bombs dropped by regime helicopters.
Syrian and Russian aircraft have been carrying out intense air strikes this week on opposition strongholds across northern Syria to prevent rebels sending reinforcements to Aleppo, a monitoring group said.
Regime aircraft continued to pound rebel positions across Idlib province yesterday as well as parts of Aleppo province, it said. Page 4
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