Almost a year ago, a photo of a small Syrian boy took the world by storm.
Omran Daqneesh, then 5, sits in a volunteer ambulance, coated in thick, grey ash and strokes of his own blood, his left eye swollen shut. He stares hauntingly into the distance.
Daqneesh was pulled alive from the remains of a building hit by airstrikes in rebel-held Aleppo. The video and image of the child was released by Syrian activists and quickly went viral, as many used his tiny, shaken face to demonstrate the cruelty of President Bashar al-Assad and his attempts to squash his opposition in Aleppo.
It was also used to shame the perceived inaction from then President Barack Obama, the United Nations, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Assad dismissed the photo as a faked publicity stunt staged by rebels.
After being treated for head wounds, Daqneesh was discharged. His older brother, Ali, 10, was crushed and killed days later by a wall.
This week, Daqneesh’s family was interviewed by Kinana Alloush for Al-Mayadeen, a pro-Syrian, Lebanese TV station, the New York Post reports. The family still lives in Aleppo, which has since been reclaimed by Assad’s forces.
Little Daqneesh appears clean and physically unscarred. His father holds him and he smiles tentatively.
“The child Omran, those who tried to shed Syrian blood misled the news that he was hit by the Syrian Arab Army,” Alloush writes in her post.
“Here he now lives in the Syrian state with its army, its leader and its people.”