News & Politics

Pulled From Wreckage Without His Parents, This 5-Year-Old Syrian Boy Has Only Known War

An emaciated young boy is again the face of Middle East turmoil. Omran Daqneesh, his visage smeared in blood, stares blankly into the distance, his world crumbling around him. The boy’s despondent face carries the suffering of Syria’s people to the world. At 5 years old, he has never known any world but war.

An anonymous doctor in Aleppo, Syria, caught the footage of Daqneesh as he boarded an ambulance for treatment. He and many others were wounded Wednesday evening in an airstrike by either the Russian or Assad regime. Here is the heartbreaking photo:

In video footage shot by the Aleppo Media Center, rescuers pull the boy from the rubble of a house and set him down in the ambulance. He does not cry, but slowly raises a hand to his injuries. He was taken to the M10 hospital, which itself has been struck repeatedly by airstrikes.

At the hospital, doctors treated his head injury and cleaned off the dust around his hair, eyes, and clothes. Here is a photo of him after the treatment:

The young boy was injured in a blast Wednesday evening along with four other children, one woman, and two young men, according to an anonymous doctor. Doctors at M10 said around 12 other children under age 15 were treated on Wednesday. More than 300,000 Syrians are estimated to have been killed in the country’s civil war. While Aleppo has been under bombardment for years, the attacks stepped up after a jihadist rebel group broke through a siege earlier this month. Russia and the Assad regime responded with intensified bombing. According to The Telegraph‘s Raf Sanchez, “Syrian activists are sharing this photo, saying Omran from #Aleppo has become their representative to the world.”

Next Page: The Twitter reaction.

Daqneesh’s photo has gone viral, and many are demanding action.

Some expressed hope that Daqneesh’s photo could spur the world to act.

But no one knows what they could do. In order to achieve peace in Syria, either one of many warring factions needs to win or they need to be forced to stop fighting each other. Neither outcome is likely for now, so the war continues.

If the U.S. assembled a coalition to conquer the country and then to reorganize it, that would likely tie down our troops, cost billions — if not trillions — of dollars, and provoke a popular backlash when it fails to solve all of the country’s problems. Assad’s regime has done terrible things, and the rebel groups are very divided. Taking in refugees can help many, but it’s not a full solution, and it may open the door to infiltration by Islamists. Since there is no easy solution, some are predicting that the outrage over Daqneesh will be short-lived, as was the outrage over the 3-year-old Syrian refugee who drowned in the Mediterranean, Alan Kurdi. Syria has no easy solution, and while it’s easy to get angry at the stubborn facts, it’s a lot harder to propose an end to the violence. All we can do is pray.