It is an image that captures the unimaginable horrors of Syria’s ongoing war in Idlib.
The photo, which was shared by Syrian activists and published in The Independent, shows Amjad al-Abdullah’s reaching desperately for his infant daughter Toqa amid the wreckage of their home destroyed. The child’s sister is desperately reaching out to grab her from beneath the rubble.
It was taken following yet another airstrike by Syrian or Russian government jets in the northern province of Idlib, where Bashar al-Assad’s forces are fighting to recapture rebel-held territory.
The atrocity caps a deadly month for children in Idlib. According to Save the Children, more children have lost their lives to violence in the last four weeks than in the entirety of 2018, The Independent reported.
The charity said that at least 33 kids have been confirmed killed since 24 June, compared to 31 during the whole of last year.
According to Syrian hospital officials, seven-month-old Toqa miraculously survived, but her five-year-old sister Riham died soon after the attack, as did her mother, Asmaa. Two other sisters were severely injured, one of them is still in a critical condition.
Bashar al Sheikh, a photographer from Kafr Nabudah, was among the first on the scene after the attack, The Independent reported.
“There was dust everywhere in the air, and people were screaming for help. I could see the young children clinging onto each other,” he told The Independent from Idlib. “The father was screaming ‘Don’t move! Don’t move!’”
“The older child was still clinging on to the baby. We rushed them to al-Shami hospital but they were running out of blood supplies and had to take them to Idlib hospital.
“I stayed with the children, praying they would be safe.”
Sonia Khush, Save the Children’s Syria Response Director, describes the situation in Idlib as “a nightmare.”
“The injuries we are seeing are horrific. It’s clear that once again children have been killed and injured in indiscriminate attacks,” she said.
“The children of northwest Syria have been caught in violent conflict for 80 days with no lull. They have been denied education, food, healthcare and forced to sleep under the trees in open fields for months now,” Khush added.
The Syrian army, backed by Russia, launched an offensive in late April aimed at retaking key roads and trade routes around Idlib and northern Hama, which the government sees as vital to consolidating its control over the country.
Russia has continually denied responsibility for air attacks, calling media reports “fake.”
The renewed violence has sent waves of civilians fleeing from areas near the frontlines of the battle to towns and villages further north, where aid groups were struggling to deal with more than a million displaced people.
This week, violence has dramatically spiked. The United Nations said that Monday was the deadliest day for civilians since the offensive began almost three months ago.
At least 59 civilians were killed that day alone, and over 100 women, children and men were injured, following a succession of deadly airstrikes in southern Idlib, The Independent reported.
According to the BBC, Idlib, northern Hama and western Aleppo province make up the last opposition stronghold in Syria after eight years of civil war.
It is supposedly covered by a truce brokered in September by Russia and opposition-backer Turkey that spared the 2.7 million civilians living there from a major government offensive.