Anas al-Basha, also known as the famous “Clown of Aleppo,” has been killed by a recent airstrike in Syria.
The clown, who was known to wear a neon orange wig and paint his face in order to perform for children in the war-torn city of Aleppo, was just 24-years-old.
Al-Basha the clown was found dead in the Mashhad section of Aleppo, Syria, officials noted.
Officially, the “Clown of Aleppo” worked as a director for Syria’s Space of Hope group, an organization dedicated to changing the lives of young children by inspiring them and making them laugh. It is believed that al-Basha had the opportunity to flee the war-torn city of Aleppo back when his parents escaped in July.
According to NBC News, citing the Associated Press, the Clown of Aleppo decided instead to stay behind in the Syria city in order to continue his mission of helping spread joy to Aleppo, Syria’s youngest victims of circumstance.
Al-Basha knew that the happy-go-lucky clown was vitally needed by the local children.
“Anas [the Clown of Aleppo]… refused to leave Aleppo and decided to stay there to continue his work as a volunteer to help the civilians and give gifts for the children in the streets to bring hope for them,” wrote al-Basha’s brother Mahmoud in an emotional Facebook post, asserting his belief that the airstrike that killed his sibling came at the hands of Russian forces and Syria’s Assad regime in Aleppo.
“All that Anas wanted is to bring happiness to the children,” continued his brother.
While the slaying of the Clown of Aleppo was likely an unintended consequence of Syria’s ongoing civil war, al-Basha’s death serves as a reminder of the dangerous consequences of living one’s life at this time in the city of Aleppo.
In particular, Syria’s government forces are staging a series of attacks and strikes that are aimed at regaining control of Aleppo, which is Syria’s largest city.
per NBC News, Aleppo has essentially been left in ruins in the aftermath of the long and drawn out battles to which it has played host in recent times.
In all, an estimated 250,000 Aleppo citizens — nearly 100,000 of whom are believed to be children — try to live their lives around the constant specter of violence, attacks, bombings, gunfire, and death.
Children and adults alike are locked in a battle of willpower to survive to the next day.
It is that very climate — one of constant fear and need for survival — that motivate the Clown of Aleppo to continue his work of providing a distraction for the children (and adults) who so desperately need to find a reason to smile in the face of the all-too-real horrors they confront every day.
“[The Clown of Aleppo] would act out skits for the children to break the walls between them,” al-Basha’s employer Samar Hijazi told the AP, also per NBC News.
He was also apparently a comfort for fully grown adults in Aleppo as well.
“All of us in this field are exhausted,” said Hijazi, recalling the passion of al-Basha and others in making that connection in spite of their scary work environment. “We have to find strength to provide psychological support and continue with our work.”
It is the all-too-real fear of living daily life in the troubled Syrian city, unfortunately, that drilled home the need for distractions such as the Clown of Aleppo.
Personal sacrifices, such as the one he made, are what many hope will be the ultimate, defining characteristic of the Syria city that is currently in ruins.
Al-Basha — the “Clown of Aleppo” — will not soon be forgotten by those who knew him.
[Featured Image by Evans/Three Lions/Getty Images]