BEIRUT, June 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A young Syrian
boy, whose stunned image covered in dust and blood became an
iconic symbol of suffering in Aleppo, has appeared in new
footage posted by a pro-Syrian government television presenter.
Omran Daqneesh and his father appeared in a video clip,
apparently still living in Aleppo telling the reporter, Kinana
Allouche, he didn't want to leave Syria.
A photograph of the wounded boy, sitting blankly and alone
in the back of an ambulance after an airstrike, was circulated
worldwide last August, highlighting the suffering of civilians
in besieged east Aleppo. His older brother, Ali, died from his
wounds after the attack.
Daqneesh's father told the reporter his son was in good
health in Aleppo - now under the control of President Bashar
al-Assad's forces. He said he had cut his son's hair and changed
his name to protect him from being kidnapped and accused rebels
of intimidating the family.
It was not clear whether the family had been coerced into
taking part in the short video posted on Facebook, the first
time the boy had been seen publicly since he was wounded.
However, Valerie Szybala from the Syria Institute, an
independent research organisation focused on Syria, said the
family was unlikely to have been speaking freely.
"They are under government control now and this is a
government that we know arrests and tortures anyone that speaks
out against it ... to me the situation seems to suggest this is
probably coerced," Szybala told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Rebel resistance in Aleppo ended last December after years
of fighting and months of bitter siege and bombardment that
culminated in a bloody retreat, as insurgents agreed to withdraw
in a ceasefire.
Syria's civil war, which erupted in 2011 has killed an
estimated 465,000 people.
(Reporting by Heba Kanso @hebakanso, Editing by Ros Russell;
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