This photo of a Syrian child so scarred by war that she stared into a camera lens believing it was the barrel of a gun and raised her arms in surrender has been shared around the world.
The fear in the little girl’s eyes as she bit her lip to stop herself crying has caused an outpouring of emotion about the “heart-breaking” image showing how “humanity failed” in the Syrian civil war.
It spread across social media this week after it was tweeted by a photojournalist in Gaza.
Nadia Abu Shaban’s post on 24 March has been shared more than 14,000 times, sparking threads on Reddit and other forums being inundated with thousands of comments.
She said the child thought the photographer had “a weapon not a camera” but the lack of further information caused viewers to speculate that the image was fake, posed or taken in an unrelated situation.
But now the man who took the photo has come forward to explain the real context behind it.
Osman Sağırlı told the BBC he took the photo in December last year at Atmeh refugee camp, near the Turkish border.
Now working in Tanzania, he said the child was a four-year-old girl called Hudea who was forced to flee fighting near her home in Hama with her mother and two siblings.
“I was using a telephoto lens and she thought it was a weapon,” Mr Sağırlı recounted.
“İ realised she was terrified after I took it, and looked at the picture, because she bit her lips and raised her hands. Normally kids run away, hide their faces or smile when they see a camera.”
During his 25 years covering conflict and disasters for the Türkiye newspaper, he has visited many refugee camps and told the BBC that suffering can be most keenly be seen through children because they “reflect the feelings with their innocence”.
The image was first published by Türkiye in January alongside an article on the desperate families fleeing the Syrian war, claiming Hudea’s father was killed by bombing in Hama.
In pictures: Syria's escalating refugee crisis
In pictures: Syria's escalating refugee crisis
1/20 Syria refugee crisis
A young Syrian refugee stands near jerry cans used to collect water at Al-Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria. The United Nations hopes that political talks between the warring sides in Syria will clinch local ceasefires to allow vital food and medicines to reach millions of civilians
2/20 Syria refugee crisis
Syrian refugees transport small stones for their tents at Al Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria
3/20 Syria refugee crisis
Representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a deeply divided opposition, world powers and regional bodies started a long-delayed peace conference aimed at bringing an end to a nearly three-year civil war
4/20 Syria refugee crisis
A Syrian refugee family rests inside their shelter in Hatay, Turkey
5/20 Syria refugee crisis
A Syrian refugee family from Aleppo crosses the Bosphorus from Uskudar to the European side of Istanbul
6/20 Syria refugee crisis
Syria's air force struck rebel-held areas around Damascus and Aleppo as face-to-face peace talks tentatively began in Switzerland
7/20 Syria refugee crisis
Syrian refugees look out from an evacuated house in the Kucukpazar district of Istanbul. Syrians fill houses which have been evacuated for urban development projects. Destitute Syrian refugees who have fled the war in Syria and camps in Turkey are fighting for their lives in different parts of Istanbul
8/20 Syria refugee crisis
Refugees who moved into the houses in Kucukpazar neighbourhood near the historic Suleymaniye mosque, are struggling to live without water and heating
9/20 Syria refugee crisis
A Syrian woman and her child stand inside a building in the Kucukpazar district of Istanbul
10/20 Syria refugee crisis
A Syrian boy sits in debris in the Kucukpazar district of Istanbul
11/20 Syria refugee crisis
Damaged buildings line a street in the besieged area of Homs
12/20 Syria refugee crisis
People sit around a fire along a street lined with debris in the besieged area of Homs
13/20 Syria refugee crisis
Children cut wood pieces in the besieged area of Homs. Efforts to get food and medical aid into Homs have become a test case on whether peace talks in Switzerland can produce any practical results almost three years into the Syrian conflict
14/20 Syria refugee crisis
Boys walk along a street past damaged buildings and vehicles in the besieged area of Homs
15/20 Syria refugee crisis
Syrians stand in a destroyed street following a reported airstrike by government forces on the northern Syrian city of Aleppo
16/20 Syria refugee crisis
Rescue teams search for survivors on the rubble of a building following Syrian government air raids in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo
17/20 Syria refugee crisis
A graveyard in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo
18/20 Syria refugee crisis
A view of destruction in Aleppo's ancient Umayyad mosque, in the UNESCO-listed northern Syrian city. The mosque's minaret was blown up during clashes between opposition and government forces
19/20 Syria refugee crisis
Syrians attend the funeral of victims who reportedly died of hunger in the besieged Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus
20/20 Syria refugee crisis
A man holds the corpse of one-year old baby Adbul Jalil Mohamed Hamis wrapped in shrouds, who reportedly died of hunger in the besieged Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus during a funeral ceremony
The province was the scene of an offensive by the Syrian opposition in December 2012 that sparked a counter-operation by the Syrian Army leading to battles in dozens of towns and villages, as well as the alleged massacre of hundreds of civilians.
More than 200,000 people have been killed so far in the Syrian civil war, where Isis, other Islamist militants, secular rebels and President Bashar al-Assad’s government are fighting on numerous fronts.
Most of the 3.9 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt see no prospect of returning home in the near future and have little opportunity to restart their lives in exile, according the UN’s refugee agency.
Millions of children are suffering from trauma and ill health, with a quarter of Syria’s schools have been damaged, destroyed or taken over for shelter and more than half of the country’s hospitals razed to the ground, the UNHCR said.
The Atmeh refugee camp, where Hudea was photographed, sprung up on the Turkish border at the start of the conflict in 2011.
Housing up to 30,000 people, it is known as the “Olive Tree Camp” after the groves surrounding it.Reuse content