Life back to nor­mal for Syr­ian photo boy

Fa­ther claims im­age was mis­used by rebels, de­nies re­ports of war­planes

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

ALEPPO, Syria — A Syr­ian boy whose heart­break­ing im­age once drew the world’s at­ten­tion is now liv­ing a nor­mal life to­gether with his fam­ily in an area cur­rently un­der the con­trol of the Syria Army.

Ac­cord­ing to his fa­ther, Mo­hamad Kheir Daqneesh, the fam­ily now lives in Suleiman al-Hal­abi dis­trict in west­ern Aleppo.

Last year, pho­tos and a video of Om­ran Daqneesh went vi­ral. He was sit­ting in an orange am­bu­lance with a bloody and dusty face in the north­ern Syr­ian city of Aleppo.

The 5-year-old grabbed head­lines around the world af­ter the im­ages and the video were cap­tured last Au­gust, re­flect­ing Syr­ian peo­ple’s suf­fer­ing dur­ing the coun­try’s civil war.

The video showed the boy be­ing res­cued from rub­ble by a para­medic and then placed in an am­bu­lance.

His three sib­lings and par­ents were saved later, but his older brother Ali died of his wounds.

Rebel and op­po­si­tion groups ac­cused Syr­ian or Rus­sian war­planes of car­ry­ing out an airstrike in the Karm al-Qaterji dis­trict in eastern Aleppo, near the place where Om­ran had lived.

Other re­ports sug­gested that the in­ci­dent was an ex­plo­sion.

Om­ran’s fa­ther said that he heard no ex­plo­sion or air­plane at that time.

“We were sit­ting at home and we didn’t hear any sound. We only felt the light go­ing off and then we re­al­ized we were cov­ered with dust and dirt. Af­ter that I saved the kids and by that time am­bu­lances had ar­rived,” Daqneesh said.

He said his neigh­bors helped him get the kids out of the house. Then paramedics placed his boy in an am­bu­lance and claimed his in­jury was se­vere.

“They pho­tographed him be­fore treat­ing him med­i­cally and com­mon sense says they should treat him be­fore film­ing,” he said, sug­gest­ing their claims were un­true.

The fa­ther said his son suf­fered a mi­nor in­jury in the fore­head, not­ing the boy was just cov­ered in blood but was not bleed­ing him­self.

He ac­cused the rebels of us­ing his son’s pho­tos and video to arouse sym­pa­thy in the West.

“If they were claim­ing he had suf­fered crit­i­cal wounds, why didn’t they treat him be­fore film­ing him? They wanted me to tes­tify to some­thing I hadn’t seen (or say) that the Rus­sian war­planes hit the area but I didn’t see that,” he said.

The fa­ther also said the op­po­si­tion group at­tempted to lure him with money to ac­cuse the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment, but they failed.

Nowa­days, there are bunk beds for Om­ran and his brother Ab­dul­lah in their bed­room, with some plas­tic toys and a green ball on the floor.

Om­ran has a fresh face now with a sunny smile like that of his peers. For­tu­nately, he has not been im­pacted psy­cho­log­i­cally by the in­ci­dent.

His fa­ther showed re­porters their for­mer house in the Qaterji dis­trict.

The house was on the first floor of a half-de­stroyed build­ing. Most parts of it re­mained ex­cept the kitchen.

Stand­ing with his fa­ther, Om­ran looked at the build­ing in the sun­set. When asked if he wanted to re­live the time in the old house, he said: “No!”

We only felt the light go­ing off then we re­al­ized we were cov­ered with dust and dirt.” Mo­hamad Kheir Daqneesh, Om­ran’s fa­ther

GETTY IM­AGES

In a pho­to­graph that went vi­ral, 5-year-old Om­ran Daqneesh sits in the back of the am­bu­lance. His fa­ther has dis­puted the claim that he was in­jured dur­ing a Rus­sian or Syr­ian gov­ern­ment air strike in Aleppo last year.

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