A heart-breaking image of a five-year-old girl's desperate attempt to save her baby sister from falling down a bomb-hit building in Syria has captured the brutality of the country's long-running war.
A photo of a young girl rescuing her seven-month-old sister from the wreckage of their home destroyed by an airstrike in Syria has sparked shockwaves online - and is being taken as a potent image of the country's deadly war.
The shocking picture captures the horror on their father's face, as he scrambles desperately to help save his infant daughter - dangling precariously by a piece of her clothing caught on rubble - from falling to the ground several stories below.
Syrian media outlet SY24 has since reported that five-year-old, Riham, and her mother died in hospital from their injuries while her younger sister remains in intensive care.
"When I arrived at the place, the father was trying to save his children, who were trapped in the rubble, screaming and weeping with great pain," SY24 photographer Bashar al-Sheikh said.
"After falling from the fifth floor as a result of the cracking of the building, I turned off the camera and went to rescue them and put them in a car to take them to the hospital."
The little girl is one of 20 civilians who were killed after an airstrike by government jets on Wednesday in the northern province of Idlib, where Bashar al-Assad’s forces are fighting to recapture the last rebel-held bastion in the country.
The Syrian regime and Russia have stepped up their deadly raids on the Idlib region since late April, despite an international deal intended to prevent a full-scale offensive on the area of some three million people.
A 'nightmare' for children caught up in conflict
The number of children killed in Idlib in the last four weeks has exceeded the total for 2018, according to a new report by Save the Children.
The escalation in violence, which started at the end of April, has now resulted in the deaths of at least 400 people, including 90 children, and displaced 440,000 people.
Save the Children and Hurras Network reported at least 33 children have been killed since 24 June, compared to 31 children killed during all of 2018.
This week has been the deadliest since fighting escalated in northwest Syria, which is home to 3 million people.
The UN said many of the victims are women and children.
“The current situation in Idlib is a nightmare. The injuries we are seeing are horrific. It’s clear that once again children have been killed and injured in indiscriminate attacks,” Save the Children Syria Response Director Sonia Khush said.
Basic supplies running out
Humanitarian agencies are already struggling to respond to the displacement across northwest Syria.
Civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, continues to be damaged or destroyed.
In the last two weeks, at least four medical facilities have been impacted by the violence, as well as a water station serving more than 80,000 people, and several schools, settlements for displaced civilians, markets and bakeries, according to the UN.
At least eight water facilities that provided drinking water for around 250,000 people in southern Idlib have been attacked in the last two months alone, as summer temperatures soar and civilians are at increased threat of diseases.
“The children of northwest Syria have been caught in violent conflict for 80 days with no lull. They have been denied education, food, and health care, and forced to sleep under the trees in open fields for months now,” Ms Khush said.
With AFP ...