Syria's homegrown "heroes" are only human — and not immune to the war's horrors.
Video of a White Helmets volunteer breaking down in tears after an hours-long operation to rescue a baby puts the emotional strain of Syria's bloodshed into stark relief. It was posted on YouTube overnight.
The rescuer clutches the dusty child to his chest as his shoulders heave and body trembles. As others step in to tend to the baby, the rescuer cries: "Oh god ... Oh lord."
The powerful moment was filmed in Idlib province on Thursday — a day when two hospitals in neighboring Aleppo province came under attack from pro-Syrian government aircraft.
The White Helmets say they've been targeted in Aleppo by the Syrian government in the week since President Bashar al-Assad launched a Russia-backed offensive to retake rebel-held parts of the city.
Bombs are "raining" and east Aleppo has become a "giant kill box," one medical charity said in a desperate statement issued Friday pleading for the government bombardment to stop.
The statement from Doctors Without Borders — also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres — came one week into the offensive. It said more than 278 people — including at least 96 children — were killed between September 21 and September 26.
Airstrikes have hit the city's few functioning hospitals, diminishing capabilities to tend to scores of wounded already facing challenges due to diminished supplies.
"Bombs are raining from Syria-led coalition plans and the whole of east Aleppo has become a giant kill box," MSF's Xisco Villalonga said in a statement. "The Syrian government must stop the indiscriminate bombing."
The Syrian government has ignored increasingly urgent pleas — even demands — to stop its strikes on east Aleppo, actions U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power called "soul-shattering" and "grotesque."
She accused Assad and Russia of "unleashing a savagery" against people they're labeling terrorists.
"Children are not terrorists," Power said. "Breadlines — and the individuals within breadlines — are not terrorists. Rescue workers are not terrorists. Hospital workers are not terrorists."