ALEPPO, Syria — A shocked Syrian boy pictured sitting in an ambulance covered in blood and dust after an air strike has become a symbol of civilian suffering in Aleppo, 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.
It was the haunting image of five-year-old Omran sitting dazed and bloodied in an ambulance that reverberated around the globe, much like the photo of little 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.
The Aleppo doctor who treated Omran’s head wound said in an interview that the boy had been reunited with his parents and that his family were all believed to have survived the strike.
“Omran was afraid and astonished and he didn’t cry because he was shocked,” the surgeon named by the BBC as Dr. Mohammad said, adding that the child hadn’t spoken a word.
“Omran had a lucky chance to spread his story over all the media but every day we have many children who have worse injury and sad stories. They maybe lost their lives or limbs, or many of them became paralysed,” he said.
The US State Department called Omran “the real face” of the Syrian conflict.
“That little boy has never had a day in his life where there hasn’t been war, death, destruction, poverty in his own country,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said at a press briefing.
Photographer Mahmoud Rslan captured the image of Omran, who was plopped onto a seat in an ambulance after being carried out of his family’s destroyed apartment by a rescuer.
He has a head full of hair that falls into his eyes and is wearing a T-shirt and shorts, but with bare feet that barely reach the edge of the chair.
“I’ve taken a lot of pictures of children killed or wounded in the strikes that rain down daily,” Rslan told AFP by telephone.
“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.”