Photographer, videographer, and activist Abd Alkader Habak was just outside Aleppo in Rashidin on April 15 when the buses carrying evacuees from al-Foua and Kefraya were attacked. The evacuees from the two Shi’ite villages were escaping their home towns, which had been besieged by Syrian rebels, Reuters reported. The evacuation of 5,000 people from al-Foua and Kefraya was part of the “Four Towns” deal, as the Inquisitr reported.
When the vehicle equipped with a bomb hit the convoy of buses that was carrying the Shia evacuees, 126 people were killed. Many of them were children. Abd Alkader Habak was in Rashidin just outside Aleppo documenting the evacuation when the buses were hit. Habak told CNN that he was briefly knocked out, but he then tried to help at the scene.
“The scene was horrible — especially seeing children wailing and dying in front of you. So I decided along with my colleagues that we’d put our cameras aside and start rescuing injured people.”
Habak recounted that the first child he checked on had been killed in the explosion. The next child he saw was barely breathing. Habak picked the child up and ran. His camera was dangling in the chaos, still recording.
“This child was firmly holding my hand and looking at me,” Habak said of the Syrian child.
Muhammad Alrageb photographed Habak running toward an ambulance with the child.
“I wanted to film everything to make sure there was accountability,” Algareb said. “I feel proud that there was a young journalist there helping save lives.”
Abd Alkader Habak doesn’t know if the boy survived. In all, 68 children were killed while waiting to be evacuated into Aleppo. After dropping the boy off with help, Habak ran back toward the site of the blast to try to help more. The next child he found was also dead. It was too much for Habak to bear, and he collapsed to the ground sobbing.
Another photographer caught this moment on camera.
The next day, Abd Alkader Habak shared a link to a video from his Twitter account.
That's what happened and that's what I saw with my own eyes. https://t.co/rXBdxjjh3P— Abd Alkader Habak (@AbdHabak) April 16, 2017
The link Habak shared on Twitter was to a video posted to Facebook of the immediate aftermath of the explosion.
“This is what happened,” Habak wrote. “We have presented what they are paying to our conscience against those who were partners in killing our children.”
The video contains graphic content, though some is blurred deliberately. Viewer discretion is advised.
According to an NPR report, a rebel group, Ahrar al-Sham, condemned the “cowardly” attack against the evacuees. The rebel group claims that it is investigating who was behind the attack. According to Ahrar al-Sham, many rebel fighters were also killed in the attack on the buses. No group has claimed responsibility, according to NPR.
“It was not the first time efforts to relieve pressure on the Shiite villages came under attack. A deal to evacuate Fuaa and Kefraya residents in conjunction with the evacuation of rebels and families from eastern Aleppo was nearly sabotaged late last year. The buses were torched in a rebel-held town en route and at least one driver left dead.”
Eventually, the evacuations were allowed to proceed, but dozens of evacuees are still missing, NPR reported. The buses from the two rebel-besieged towns proceeded safely with their evacuation plans even though the evacuees were terrified that there would be retribution for the attack on the civilians of al-Foua and Kefraya.
Al Jazeera reported that 126 people, including 68 children, were killed in the attack on the evacuees.
“It appears that the explosion happened at the front of the convoy, which is about 70 buses long. Apparently it happened in an area where the sick and the injured were either being transferred or swapped,” Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid reported from Turkey.
[Featured Image by Thiqa News Agency/AP Images]