Syrian warplanes appeared to target a funeral Saturday morning in east Aleppo, killing dozens of civilians who had come to mourn the deaths of at least 13 people days earlier.
The attack on Bab al-Nairab, a Syrian suburb named after one of the city’s ancient gates, took place in waves, activists said. The first barrel bomb hit a funeral procession, the second landed as rescue workers arrived. Doctors said the preliminary death count was 25.
Aleppo is one of the Syrian war’s most important battlegrounds, divided by government forces in the west and armed opposition groups in the east. According to monitoring groups, more than 300 civilians have been killed in fighting there this month.
The United Nations’ special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has urged warring parties to state by Sunday whether they will commit to a 48-hour humanitarian cease-fire across the city.
On Friday, a video of two young boys, inconsolable as they mourned the death of family members in a Thursday airstrike on Bab al-Nairab, went viral. The footage captured a private moment of painful grief: Sobbing, the boys clutch each other tightly, surrounded by the hubbub of a hospital ward.
Underscoring the tragedy that has befallen so many families left in Aleppo, it appeared that the boys came from the same families that took to the streets Saturday to mourn their dead, only to be hit by airstrikes.
The fate of the children remains unknown. The flood of photographs from the aftermath of the attack were too graphic to publish. They showed the bodies of men, women and children, some of them blasted in half.
“The regime is telling us that we can’t be sad, we can’t cry for our children who die. They want us to think that if we hold funerals for them, we will risk death, too,” said Abdulkafi al-Hamdo, an English teacher from Aleppo who shared images of the dead with reporters.
The video came a week after footage of another child, 5-year-old Omran Daqneesh, was viewed millions of times around the world, transforming his dusty image into a symbol of Aleppo’s suffering. When the child’s brother died days later, the news received little attention.
Several Aleppo residents said Saturday that they were frustrated at the ways the viral nature of such images removes them from their tragic context. “It’s not enough to see the child, to share it and move on,” said one man, who gave his name as Wael. “No one thinks about the fact that they have to keep surviving in this war zone after the cameras move away. Their story doesn’t end with a Facebook share.”
De Mistura, the envoy, has led global calls for the pause that the United Nations and aid groups such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, say is desperately needed by civilians trapped in the midst of brutal fighting between the regime and opposition forces.