Life back to normal for Syrian photo boy
Father claims image was misused by rebels, denies reports of warplanes
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
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.