Viral picture of Syrian boy is fake, Assad says

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Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview published Wednesday that the now-famous picture of 5-year-old boy Omran Daqneesh, covered in blood in the back of an ambulance, is a fake.

The image has been called a symbol of Syria's bloody civil war, now in it sixth year, including by the interviewer speaking with Assad.

"Of course I saw it," Assad said of the image, speaking to Swiss TV SRF1. "This is a forged picture and not a real one."

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Assad said that he has seen many images of victims, including children, since the war began. But he alleged this particular image, that has since become famous, is a forgery.

"We have real pictures of children being harmed, but this one specifically is a forged one," Assad said.

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Iconic photo of Omran Daqneesh, symbol of the devastation of Aleppo
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Iconic photo of Omran Daqneesh, symbol of the devastation of Aleppo
ALEPPO, SYRIA - AUGUST 17: (EDITORS NOTE: Image contains graphic content.) 5-year-old wounded Syrian kid Omran Daqneesh sits alone in the back of the ambulance after he got injured during Russian or Assad regime forces air strike targeting the Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 17, 2016. (Photo by Mahmud Rslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
In this frame grab taken from video provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC), a child sits in an ambulance after being pulled out or a building hit by an airstirke, in Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. Syrian opposition activists reported an airstrikes on the al-Qaterji neighborhood in Aleppo late Wednesday. (Aleppo Media Center via AP)
ALEPPO, SYRIA - AUGUST 17: (EDITORS NOTE: Image contains graphic content.) 5-year-old wounded Syrian kid Omran Daqneesh (C) sits with his sister (R) in the back of the ambulance after they got injured during Russian or Assad regime forces air strike targeting the Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 17, 2016. (Photo by Mahmud Rslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ALEPPO, SYRIA - AUGUST 17: (EDITORS NOTE: Image contains graphic content.) 5-year-old wounded Syrian kid Omran Daqneesh sits alone in the back of the ambulance after he got injured during Russian or Assad regime forces air strike targeting the Qaterji neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 17, 2016. (Photo by Mahmud Rslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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"Aleppo has been under siege for the last four years by the terrorists, and we haven't heard a question by Western journalists about what's happening in Aleppo that time," Assad complained. "We haven't heard a single statement by Western officials regarding the children of Aleppo."

ABC News says that medical examiners reported to them Daqneesh was treated for injuries following an August airstrike. Mahmoud Rslan and Mustafa Sarout, the photographer and videographer involved in taking the picture, corroborate such an account.

"While taking the photo at looking at the boy, I was crying," said Sarout. "He was just looking at us with a strange look, as if he was wondering what happened to his family."

The boy's mother and father survived the strike, but an older brother died days later in a hospital from injuries sustained, Time reports.


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