Middle East

Aleppo vendor becomes opposition icon

The youngster (left) was mourned widely by opposition supporters.

BEIRUT: Pro-opposition social media and news outlets have been mourning the death of a young boy from Aleppo, killed Friday in a barrel bomb strike, as the latest icon of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad. Mustafa Arab was reportedly killed during his daily walk around the neighborhood of Bustan al-Qasr, where he sold biscuits as an itinerant vendor to support his younger siblings as his family’s sole breadwinner.

Pro-opposition Facebook pages ran photos of Arab, who was well-known in the neighborhood, although as one opposition site put it, “He wasn’t the only one who was forced to live this way.”

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-regime group, recently stated that approximately 600 people under the age of 18 had been killed in Aleppo by regime airstrikes this year, most of them by the crude, helicopter-delivered devices.

To highlight their anger, some anti-regime social media users posted photos of the dead boy next to those of officials from the opposition-in-exile National Coalition enjoying a nargileh session in a restaurant in the United States.

The Halab News pro-opposition website said Arab was 9 years old and supported his siblings after their parents were no longer able to, without giving further details.

An opposition outlet quoted a prominent social media commentator as saying: “I have never put the photo of a martyr as my profile photo, because I might not deserve to do such a thing ... not even the photo of my niece, who was martyred. But Mustafa Arab’s photo has placed itself there.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 02, 2014, on page 8.




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