Al Jazeera — Images of a five year old Syrian boy – covered in dust and blood after being plucked from a bombed-out building – have gone viral after they were posted to social media, provoking widespread outrage and upset.
The footage, released by opposition activists on Wednesday, showed the aftermath of an air strike in the city of Aleppo and encapsulated the human toll of Syria’s five-year war. The video, posted online by the Aleppo Media Center, shows a stunned and weary-looking boy, sitting alone and bewildered on an orange chair inside an ambulance shortly after he was rescued.
Khaled Khaled, an Aleppo-based member of the Syrian Civil Defence, a volunteer rescue group that operates in rebel-held territory, identified the boy as five-year-old Omran Daqneesh. The boy was later rushed by members of the group, also known as the White Helmets, to a nearby hospital, Khaled told Al Jazeera. He suffered from light head wounds and was released later that night.
Three other people were killed and at least eight others, mostly women and children, were injured in the same air strike, according to Khaled. It was the images of Omran, though, that made the headlines and drew shock and revulsion from both Syrians and foreigners on social media.
In a video of a chaotic night-time scene, a man is seen carrying the boy from the rubble of an unidentified building to an ambulance, the five-year-old’s expression dazed and flat-eyed. The boy then runs a hand over his blood-covered face, looks at the blood and wipes his hands on the ambulance chair. He does not cry or make a sound.
The image has been shared thousands of times on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
The pictures of Omran – referred to by many as “the boy in the ambulance” – were reminiscent of the image of Aylan Kurdi, another Syrian boy whose body was found on a beach in Turkey last year after he drowned as he and his family attempted to cross the Mediterranean in the hope of finding refuge in Europe.
The image of Kurdi’s body brought world attention to the growing refugee crisis, as tens of thousands of Syrians attempted to make the same dangerous journey, fleeing wartorn homes for the stability of Europe.
UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura estimated in April that at least 400,000 people had been killed in Syria in a five-year-long war that has uprooted nearly half of the country’s population.