In Syria, a father says last goodbye to dead child

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A Syrian man, right, hugging and saying his last goodbye to his dead child who was killed during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, as he walks to bury him in a mass grave, in Ghouta.

A Syrian man, right, hugging and saying his last goodbye to his dead child who was killed during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, as he walks to bury him in a mass grave, in Ghouta. (Photo: Ghouta Media Center via AP)

BEIRUT (AP) — A father saying his last goodbye to his dead child, before the shelling starts again.

It's a grief shared by all too many parents trapped with their children under a brutal, government siege of the eastern Ghouta region outside the Syrian capital of Damascus. The government, backed by Russia, is determined to bring the once rebellious region back under its authority.

In one poignant video shared by residents inside, a father who isn't identified picks up the shrouded body of a child from the back of a truck and holds him close to his chest. Someone off camera tells others around to let the man say goodbye to his son. The man rocks the child's body in his arms and turns away from the camera.

A Syrian man, left, hugging and saying his last goodbye to his dead child who was killed during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, as he walks to bury him in a mass grave, in Ghouta. (Ghouta Media Center via AP)
A Syrian man, left, hugging and saying his last goodbye to his dead child who was killed during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, as he walks to bury him in a mass grave, in Ghouta. (Ghouta Media Center via AP)

Six more bodies lie on the truck, wrapped in sheets and polyester blankets that are sorely needed by residents to stay warm in this time of siege.

In between the shelling and the bombardment, residents bury their dead. With limited time and space, and casualties spiraling, the deceased are rushed into mass graves — a layer of bodies placed between a latticework of cinderblocks, a sheet of plywood placed on top, and another layer added.

In eastern Ghouta, families have been burning plastics to fuel stoves this winter, because of a tight blockade on fuel into the region. U.N. officials say the region is in the middle of a humanitarian crisis. The international body estimates there are close to 400,000 people living inside.

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