‘This isn’t Pompeii, this is Aleppo’

Story highlights

Photo of dead father and son brings the horrors of Aleppo, Syria, into focus

Airstrikes pummel eastern Aleppo in new wave of violence, a volunteer group says

CNN —  

This article contains graphic images.

As 200 airstrikes hammered Aleppo last weekend, activists and aid workers posted dozens of pictures and videos online. Each of them heartbreaking, each helping to convey the horror of the besieged Syrian city.

On Friday afternoon, a photo emerged of Brahim Sawas and his 10-year old son, Mahmoud, who had fallen victim to the war. They were covered in blood and dust, the pressure of the rubble holding their final postures in place.

“This isn’t Pompeii, this is Aleppo,” one social media user wrote.

A family devastated

The tragedy of this family doesn’t end there. Another image shows Sawas’$2 8-month-old baby, Muhammad, buried under rubble in a separate room as Syrian Civil Defense workers try to recover the child’s body from the dirt and dust.

Um Mahmoud, Sawas’ wife and the mother of the two dead boys, survived the airstrike along with her daughter. The mother and daughter were sleeping in the same room with the 8-month-old baby.

Weekend of horror

Sawas and the two boys were among more than 300 people killed last weekend in a new wave of violence. The deadly strike that hit the family home at 5 a.m. Friday in eastern Aleppo’s rebel-held neighborhood of Qaterji was the first of a series of hundred.

Mahmoud Sawas' uncle holds the boy's body after Friday's airstrike.
Thaer Mohammed
Mahmoud Sawas' uncle holds the boy's body after Friday's airstrike.

One activist from Aleppo described to CNN a level of bombing never seen before in a conflict that began more five years ago.

In response to the surge in airstrikes, activists took to Twitter, using an Arabic hashtag that translates to #HolocaustAleppo and sharing pictures and videos from the city. Some had mistakenly described the photo of the father and son as that of a mother clutching her baby.

Iconic images

Omran Daqneesh, bloodied and covered with dust, sits in an ambulance after a strike in August.
AMC/Twitter
Omran Daqneesh, bloodied and covered with dust, sits in an ambulance after a strike in August.

Thaer Mohammed, a photographer who lives 15 minutes away from the Sawas family home, took the moving pictures.

One shows volunteers from the Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, working to save Muhammad Sawas from under the rubble. But it was too late. In the next photo, the boy’s devastated mother cradles him in her hands.

Last month, a photo of Omran Daqneesh, bloodied and covered with dust, sitting in an ambulance after surviving an airstrike that destroyed his family’s home, was a stark reminder of the toll of Syria’s war. Last year, the image of the lifeless body of Alan Kurdi underscored Europe’s refugee crisis.

The pictures from last weekend’s strikes are further reminders of the Syrian conflict’s devastation.

CNN’s Roba Alhenawi to this report.