Even as the images of Omran, the dust-covered shell-shocked little boy from Aleppo, Syria, continue their journey through social media, the tragedies of his life continue to pile up. On Saturday, Omran’s 10-year-old brother, Ali, succumbed to injuries he sustained in an air strike that shattered their home.
The air strike took place on August 17 in the Qaterji neighbourhood in east Aleppo. Four-year-old Omran was among the many people pulled out from under rubble and rescued.
Since the incident, Omran’s image was shared widely and even called “the real face” of the country’s civil war.
What shocked and moved the world most about the footage is the dazed expression on Omran’s face as he waits alone in an ambulance. The haunting video has him run his hand on the bloody side of his face, look at his hand with blood on it, and with no change in his expression, wipe it off on the orange fabric on the seat.
"That little boy has never had a day in his life where there hasn't been war, death, destruction, poverty in his own country," US State Department spokesman John Kirby told the media in Washington, a day after the airstrike.
"You don't have to be a dad, but I am. You can't but help look at that and see that that's the real face of what's going on in Syria," Kirby said.
Since the image's release, the photo has reverberated around the globe, much like that of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, whose body washed ashore on a Turkish beach last year.
Over 290,000 people, including 15,000 children have died in the five-year-long civil war that has marred Syria. Since 2012, east Aleppo has been controlled by the rebels, while west Aleppo is under government control.
Russian warplanes, in agreement with the regime, have been bombarding the eastern parts of the city since September 2015, while the eastern end faces airstrikes from the opposition groups.
In July, Washington and Moscow reached an agreement to cooperate more closely in an attempt to salvage a failing truce and focus on battling the Islamic State jihadists.
The American roadmap to end the war includes a national ceasefire, opening up of humanitarian aid, and the resumption of political negotiations between the Syrian regime and opposition in Geneva.
Under a cessation of hostilities, Kirby said, people would hopefully be spared "any more images like the one of that young boy today in Aleppo.
(With PTI inputs)