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At an unlikely cat shelter in rebel-held northern Syria, Mohammed Alaa al-Jaleel gently holds a feline patient on her back as an ultrasound probe is rolled across her pregnant belly.The 43-year-old, who grew up in Syria's second city Aleppo, has been mad about cats since he was a boy.As the war raged on and cat lovers fled the city, Jaleel was left with 170 cats to feed and a new nickname – the Cat Man of Aleppo.Sukhoi, the cat Determined not to leave them behind, he and fellow feline fans managed to save 22 of the city's cats.The war in Syria has killed more than 350,000 people and displaced more than half its prewar human population, as well as many of its domestic animals.After fleeing Aleppo, Jaleel set up his second shelter – named after Ernesto – in early 2017 and housed 18 of the 22 smuggled cats in the animal oasis.Even the shelter's cats are treated for war wounds, says the center's vet, Mohammed Yusuf.
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