Russia has denied responsibility for an attack on a neighbourhood in the Syrian city of Aleppo which wounded a young boy whose rescue was filmed and shared widely on social media.
The image of stunned five-year-old boy, Omran Daqneesh sitting in an ambulance caked with dust and with blood on his face, captured the horror that has beset the war-torn city.
The Russian defence ministry said in a statement it never targets populated areas and that rebels themselves hit urban areas in order to derail humanitarian efforts there.
The ministry also said the footage of the boy’s rescue showed windows in the house next door intact, indicating that the boy’s house was not targeted by an air strike but was hit with a mine that rebels use.
Video of the small boy, bloodied and covered in dust, sparked outrage and concern on social media .
Twitter user Charlene Deveraturda @malasadasbooks posted an image of the boy and wrote: “Poor baby. Near my grandson’s age. I cannot imagine. The image does not leave my mind. #syrianboy #Syria #peace”
The hashtag #Syrianboy was one of the top trending topics across the world. More than 10 tweets posted every minute on Twitter with the hashtag. Many linked images of the child with a picture of Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian boy whose body was found on a beach in Turkey last year.
The video of Omran and other children being pulled from the rubble caused widespread upset and condemnation over the harrowing reality of Syria’s five-year-old civil war.
Twitter user Malcolmite (@Malcolmite) wrote: “It’s not important if it goes viral, what’s important is what is going to be done about it? #syrianboy”
Aleppo, split into rebel- and government-controlled areas, has become the focus of the fighting in Syria.
Rebel-held areas suffer heavy air strikes daily as pro-government forces try to retake territory lost to rebels two weeks ago in the southwest of Aleppo.
Aleppo-based freelance photographer Mohammed Raslan Abu Sheikh, who was at the scene, said civilian rescuers and aid workers were elated as Omran was pulled from the rubble alive with the rest of his family of six.
“He was in a state of shock, not even crying, he made us cry while he himself was silent, just watching us,” Abu Sheikh told Reuters.
A dazed and bloodied boy in an ambulance has become the symbol of the war in Syria. https://t.co/7iMbLM7uGk— AJ+ (@ajplus) August 19, 2016
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