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A Child In The Midst Of War

Mahmud Rslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

This image of Omran Daqneesh, 5, has become a powerful symbol of the Syrian conflict, putting an unforgettable face on the war’s horrors.

On August 17, an airstrike struck the Qaterji area of Aleppo, killing and wounding several people. Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh was injured, and his family, like many others, saw their home destroyed.

Mahmud Rslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Omran sits with his sister in the back of an ambulance after waiting five hours to be rescued from the rubble after an Russian or Assad regime forces airstrike.

The final moments of the family’s rescue were also captured on video, which shows a calm Omran and his siblings in the midst of a dusty, bloody and chaotic scene. Omran was treated for his head wound at one of Aleppo’s underground hospitals; his 10-year-old brother, Ali, died a few days later from injuries to his liver and kidneys.

Syrian photographer Mahmud Rslan, who once worked in a pastry shop, said he wept as the children were brought to the ambulance and fears for his own family’s safety. The photograph brought him international renown, and he remains committed to documenting the violence in his country.

"I just want to continue standing against injustice...I want to continue to document the crimes. I want to stay with the poor civilians who can’t flee. I don’t want to leave and let my people down."

- Mahmud Rslan

Rslan has stayed in touch with Omran’s family since the attack. They are living in a very “humble” home, where Rslan recently visited them, bringing toys to lift the spirits of the littlest victims of this ongoing conflict. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based watchdog organization, 4,500 children under the age of 18 have been killed in Aleppo since 2011.

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