A photograph of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh, covered in dust and blood after an Aug. 17 airstrike in the Syrian city of Aleppo wrenched our hearts, and reminded us that the country's civil war is not just some geopolitical football. Omran was lucky to survive. Tens of thousands of other children have not, including Omran's own 10-year-old brother, Ali.
It's not clear if the recent one-week-long ceasefire negotiated between the U.S. and Russia is driven more by geopolitics or the recent burst of public empathy for the likes of Omran and Ali. Nonetheless, beginning last night, Syrian government troops were supposed to stop bombing certain rebel-held areas and humanitarian aid was finally due to reach the many civilians in need. In turn, rebels were supposed to cut off their affiliation with militants formerly linked to al-Qaeda.
But just a few hours after the ceasefire was slated to start, government helicopters reportedly dropped barrel bombs on an Aleppo neighborhood and troops shelled a route intended for humanitarian aid, The Washington Post reports. Syrian media loyal to the government accused rebels of attacking a southern province. Still, according to UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, there were no civilian casualties in the first 15 hours of the truce.
In a better world, the haunting image of Omran's face, one eye wounded shut, would lead directly to a lasting negotiated settlement in Syria. We hold no illusions that the real world doesn't work quite that way. But if even temporary ceasefires can't hold, the empathy that Omran inspired is bound to be another victim of this endless war.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY
- The 71st United Nations General Assembly opens in New York, with world leaders slated to speak and a particular focus on the refugee crisis.
- New polymer five-pound banknote goes into circulation in UK. Yes, it can survive a trip to the washing machine.
- Bill Clinton to fill in for Hillary at two Beverly Hills fundraisers, as the Democratic candidate recovers from pneumonia.