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Doctor: ‘85,000 children need to be protected’ in Aleppo

Thaer Mohammed, AFP |A Syrian man reacts as rescuers look for victims under the rubble of a collapsed building following a reported air strike on the rebel-held neighbourhood of Sakhur in the northern city of Aleppo on July 19, 2016.

The case of Omran, the injured Syrian child whose photo has shocked the world, is not rare in Aleppo and thousands of children like him have been traumatised by daily life under bombs and siege, a doctor who voluntereed there told FRANCE 24.

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The footage of the shell-shocked four-year-old made headlines around the world and was dubbed by Washington "the real face" of Syria's five-year war.

The footage from activists at the Aleppo Media Centre shows Omran sitting quietly in an ambulance, his bare, dust-covered feet barely reaching the edge of the orange chair. He touches his forehead with a tiny hand and seems surprised to see blood on his fingers -- then wipes it off on the orange chair with the timidity of a child who seems to think he has done something wrong.

Doctor Zaher Sahoul, a critical care physician from Chicago who volunteered in the rebel-held areas of Aleppo, told FRANCE 24 that he was surprised by the international outcry over Omran’s case.

"This is something we see every day, and every day I receive from my colleagues pictures of children who are mutilated or killed", said Dr Sahoul, who was in Aleppo when the city was besieged by Syrian regime forces.

He recalled providing medical care to a child who eventually died of his injuries because he could not be evacuated to Turkey.

"I think that anything that can put a human face on the crisis in Syria, anything that can move people from just looking at these pictures to action – protecting the civilians, protecting these children, protecting these hospitals (…) - is good", said Sahoul, who added: "There are 85,000 children in the besieged city of Aleppo that need to be protected".

Listen to the interview with Doctor Zaher Sahoul by clicking on the video player above this article.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
 

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