Five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, whose image was widely shared after he was pulled from the rubble of an air strike in August, appears not to have died in overnight strikes on east Aleppo despite several rumours in Syrian news and on social media he has been killed.
A local Syrian civil defence service rescue worker and representative from medical charity Sams both said that the child was not identified among last night’s victims. His family have not yet been reached for confirmation of their safety.
Rescue workers operating in the besieged area say as many as 50 people were killed in heavy bombing in al-Qarterji neighbourhood in the early hours of Monday morning. The list of the dead they released included two six-week-old babies, and six more children aged under eight. Fourteen of those killed were reportedly from the same family.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR) confirmed 17 of the deaths, including five children. It also noted that 82 people, including 17 children, died in government-controlled west Aleppo as a result of rebel shelling.
Pictures and videos of Omran, covered in dust and blood and sitting quietly distressed on an orange ambulance chair, caused outrage worldwide over the destruction caused by Russian-backed Syrian government bombing of rebel-held east Aleppo. His 10-year-old brother Ali died of his wounds shortly afterwards.
Bombing of east Aleppo has intensified since then in some of the worst violence of Syrian's almost six-year-old civil war. The breakdown of a US and Russian brokered ceasefire last month led to an unprecedented attack on rebel neighbourhoods in which SOHR estimates almost 500 people have died, condemned by many governments as a potential war crime.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Russian government have insisted that strikes target US-backed and al-Qaeda affiliated “terrorists”, who were encircled by regime forces in July.
Intense air strikes have been followed up with a ground assault which has made slow but steady gains capturing territory from rebels from east Aleppo’s northern access points.
On Monday, the European Union urged Russia to bring about a swift end to the bombing of Aleppo but refrained from imposing any sanctions on Moscow even though it said the attacks on the city could amount to war crimes.
At a regular meeting of foreign ministers from the EU's 28 member states on Monday, several ministers said sanctions against Russia would have no impact and could even be counterproductive in the search for an overall settlement to the conflict in Syria.
In a statement following their meeting, ministers said the Syrian “regime and its allies, notably Russia,” had used “clearly disproportionate” violence in Aleppo. It said the offensive targeting hospitals, schools, were part of attacks that “may amount to war crimes.”
While EU ministers were discussing Syria, the head of Russia's military general staff said Russian and Syrian forces are preparing a “humanitarian pause” for the besieged city on Thursday.
Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying that Russian and Syrian forces will halt their fighting from 8am to 4pm on Thursday in order to allow civilians and rebels safe passage out of the city as well as for the evacuation of the sick and wounded.Reuse content