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Russia in Aleppo ceasefire response as rescue boy images go viral

Published 18/08/2016

The Russian military is ready to back a UN call for weekly ceasefires for Syria's contested city of Aleppo after haunting footage of a young boy's rescue from the aftermath of an airstrike went viral.

The image of the stunned boy, sitting in an ambulance caked with dust and with blood on his face, captured the horror that has beset the war-torn northern city as photographs of the child were widely shared on social media.

An hour after his rescue, the badly-damaged building the boy was in completely collapsed.

A doctor in Aleppo identified the child as five-year-old Omran Daqneesh.

He was brought to the hospital, known as "M10," on Wednesday night following an airstrike by Russian or government warplanes on the rebel-held area of Qaterji, said Dr Osama Abu al-Ezz.

The boy suffered head wounds but no brain injury, and was later discharged.

Rescue workers and journalists arrived shortly after the strike and described pulling victims from the rubble.

"We were passing them from one balcony to the other," said photojournalist Mahmoud Raslan, who took the dramatic photo.

He said he had passed along three lifeless bodies when someone handed him the wounded boy. Mr Raslan gave the child to a rescue worker, who rushed him to the ambulance.

Eight people died in the strike, including five children, and a nurse who treated Omran said "he was in a daze".

"It was as if he was asleep. Not unconscious, but traumatised - lost," said Mahmoud Abu Rajab.

Medical workers feared internal injuries but an X-ray and an ultrasound revealed his wounds were superficial. Abu Rajab stitched up the child and wrapped his forehead and left eye in a bandage.

Omran's three siblings - aged one, six and 11 - and his mother and father were also rescued from the building. None suffered major injuries.

The powerful imagery reverberated across social media, drawing to mind the anguished global response to the photos of Aylan Kurdi, the drowned Syrian boy whose body was found on a beach in Turkey and came to represent the horrific toll of Syria's civil war.

The fighting has frustrated the UN's efforts to fulfil its humanitarian mandate and the world body's special envoy to Syria cut short a meeting of the ad hoc committee - chaired by Russia and the US - tasked with de-escalating the violence so that relief can reach beleaguered civilians.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said there was "no sense" in holding the meeting in light of the obstacles to delivering aid.

The UN is hoping to secure a weekly 48-hour pause to the fighting in Aleppo.

Russian defence ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said Russia would back the initiative on condition the aid convoys travel to both rebel-controlled and government-held parts of the city. He said Russia was ready to support deliveries starting next week.

Mr Konashenkov said ceasefire dates for Aleppo could be determined in coordination with the UN and after receiving guarantees of safe passage of the convoys from the US.

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