IDLIB: In the aftermath of a barrel bomb attack in Syria’s Idlib, nine-year-old Abdel Basset Al-Satuf tries to sit up, his legs blown off, and screams “Daddy, pick me up!”
Abdel Basset was caught in a barrel bomb attack by regime forces on Thursday in the town of Al-Hbeit, in northwest Idlib province.
The harrowing footage of the young boy screaming for his father as he struggles to sit up, his legs turned to bloody stumps, quickly spread on social media.
The child was taken to a hospital in the provincial capital Idlib city for preliminary treatment, but on Friday he and his father were transferred to Turkey for specialised care.
In an ambulance about to head to the border, Abdel Basset recounted the incident as his father Taan tried to keep his composure.
“We were sitting having lunch when the barrel bombs started to fall on the town and my father told us to get in the house,” he told AFP.
“But as we arrived at the door of the house a barrel fell on it and when it exploded fire blasted towards me and amputated my legs,” he said.
“My father immediately picked me up and moved me and put me down on the ground (away from the house) and then an ambulance came and they treated me,” he added.
In the video, Abdel Basset can be seen sitting stunned as desperate voices scream for an ambulance and paramedics.
His father had run back to the house to search for the rest of the family, three of whom were killed in the attack.
In Al-Hbeit, the family’s landlord described the incident as “a massacre”.
“Then a barrel bomb came down and there was a big explosion,” Walid Abu Ras said.
His mother was killed
Taan ran back towards his house, trying to warn his family to take cover when their home was hit.
“Abdel Basset’s legs were blown off and one of his sisters was killed, and another one was wounded. His mother was killed and he doesn’t know yet,” Abu Ras said.
The attack also killed the husband of one of Abdel Basset’s sisters.
Abu Ras said the family had arrived in Idlib less than two years ago from Latamneh in neighbouring Hama, displaced by war like more than half of Syria’s population.
The video of Abdel Basset is just the latest footage to refocus attention on the plight of Syria’s civilians, particularly children.
In August 2016, haunting images of a four-year-old called Omran, shell-shocked and covered in dust after an air strike, reverberated around the world.
Syria’s government and rebel forces are technically observing a ceasefire brokered by Turkey and Russia that began on December 30.
But while the truce has brought relative quiet to parts of the country, sporadic violence has continued, with civilians often the victims.
More than 310,000 people have been killed in the conflict that began with anti-government protests in March 2011.
Rights groups have regularly criticised Syria’s regime for using barrel bombs, crude munitions notorious for causing indiscriminate casualties, but President Bashar al-Assad denies his forces use the weapon.
On Friday afternoon, Turkey’s IHH charity tweeted pictures of Abdel Basset arriving in Turkey and being attended by medics there.
His body extended just half way down the stretcher carrying him to an ambulance, and he was covered in a thick blanket.
Next to him lay a stuffed yellow toy duck nearly the same size as the boy himself.