BEIRUT — The picture shows one little boy covered in dust and blood, his face sullen after an apparent government air raid that struck his home in the Syrian city of Aleppo. The haunting image went viral. Millions shared it on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. People around the globe expressed shock over what happened to 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh.
Fortunately, little Omran and his family escaped the incident with only minor wounds. But his image serves as a painful reminder of war's toll on children, whose suffering has been captured in heartbreaking photos, day after day after day.
That’s because Aleppo is literally burning.
And it’s getting worse as rebels and government forces there battle for control over the northern city.
Thousands of people there have perished since the conflict erupted five years ago. Neighborhoods in Aleppo’s rebel-held eastern areas have been reduced to smolder and rubble by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s warplanes. Hospitals have been pulverized. Entire families wiped out by what seemingly amounts to carpet-bombings of civilian areas in the city by the Syrian leader’s aircraft.
Images showing war-wounded kids might trigger an outpouring of international sorrow and anger over what is still happening in Syria. The pictures might increase donations for cash-strapped aid groups that are struggling to ease the suffering in a conflict that has killed more than a quarter of a million people and produced an extraordinary refugee crisis.
But the bloodletting rages on, especially in Aleppo, perhaps the conflict’s most violent flash point.
In fact, the suffering there has intensified as rebel groups and pro-government fighter each attack, counterattack and then do it all over again.
A government siege of rebel-run Aleppo’s 300,000 residents may have been tentatively broken this month, but those people are facing severe food shortages. And Russia, an ally of Assad, has apparently upped its air raids over Aleppo’s opposition areas, too.
That means many, many more people will die.