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This Powerful Image Of A Wounded Boy Reminds The World Of The Human Cost Of War

Photo: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.
Civil defense members and Syrians tried to rescue people from the attack site after aircrafts hit residential areas near al-Qura junction of Idlib, Syria, on August 17. Among those rescued from the rubble was a 5-year-old boy.
Editor's note: This story contains images and video that some readers may find disturbing. Refinery29 has not taken the decision to publish these graphic images lightly. We have chosen to show them to draw attention to the ongoing Syrian civil war and refugee crisis. Read more about the crisis here and find out how you can help here.

The world received a stark reminder of the violence faced by Syrian families on Wednesday, when anti-government activists released a video of children being pulled from the rubble after an air strike in Aleppo.

In a video released by the Aleppo Media Center, rescuers can be seen carrying a 5-year-old boy into an ambulance. Covered in dirt and debris, his feet bare, he wipes his face and looks at his palm, which is covered in blood. He slowly wipes his small hand on the ambulance seat. It's a scene that's likely played out thousands of times during Syria's years-long civil war, but the image of a small child silently assessing his injuries hit home.

Since then, the image and video has made headlines around the world — a stark reminder that despite the fact that the Syrian civil war and refugee crisis have faded from international front pages in recent months, the situation on the ground remains extremely dire.
Photo: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.
5-year-old wounded Syrian boy Omran Daqneesh sits with his sister in the back of the ambulance after they were injured during an air strike in Aleppo on August 17.
The boy was identified by a doctor as Omran Daqneesh, The Associated Press reported. The girl alongside him in the ambulance was later identified as his sister. They were rescued along with two of their other siblings and treated for their injuries. Their parents were also rescued. But others were killed in the strike, Al Jazeera reported. And just an hour after Omran and his family were rescued, the entire building collapsed.

Ongoing airstrikes by forces loyal to Syria's authoritarian leader, Bashar al-Assad, as well as Russian forces supporting him, have targeted opposition neighbourhoods. People in Aleppo face "constant bombardment, violence, and displacement," according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.

The civil war began in 2011, after Assad cracked down on peaceful protesters calling for democratic elections. Since then, armed rebel groups have also joined the fight against him. In addition to those who have been killed or displaced inside Syria, more than 4.8 million Syrians have been forced to flee as refugees, according to the U.N.

Omran's photo has once again drawn attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis, much like the images of another young Syrian boy, Aylan Kurdi, forced the world to pay attention to the plight of Syrian refugees. Aylan, his brother, and his mother drowned while trying to flee to Turkey nearly a year ago.

Journalists and activists took to Twitter on Thursday, sharing Omran's photo and asking a simple but powerful question to those perhaps desensitised by seeing so much violence: What if he were your child?
Watch the full video of Omran's rescue below.

Refinery29 is committed to telling the human story behind the headlines of the Syrian civil war and refugee crisis. Read "Daughters of Paradise," the story of three Syrian women who were forced to flee violence and civil war and rebuild their lives in Turkey, here.