Russia's military on Friday denied that its airstrikes in Syria target civilians after a photo of a wounded 5-year-old boy in the city of Aleppo sparked outrage across the world.
"We have repeatedly stressed that the aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces in the Syrian Arab Republic never work on targets in civilian areas," General Igor Konashenkov said in comments carried by state news agency TASS.
"This concerns Aleppo's Qaterji neighbourhood, mentioned in the Western media. It is adjacent to two corridors for the safe passage of local civilians that were recently opened as part of Russia's humanitarian operation," Konashenkov continued.
Reports identified the boy as Omran Daqneesh, injured in a military strike on rebel-held Qaterji earlier this week.
The photo of him, covered in dust and blood, sitting in an ambulance, was widely circulated on social media.
A spokesman for the White Helmets, a group of volunteer emergency workers in Syria, said the boy resembles numerous victims of the civil war.
"I can tell the world there are dozens of Omrans in Aleppo each day," Ibrahim al Hajj told dpa.
"God loves Omran and his family, who escaped with only slight injuries. In the same night, little children were pulled from the rubble in the Salahine neighborhood of eastern Aleppo," al Hajj continued.
"Those were not lucky children. Their pictures did not horrify the world like Omran's, or before when the Kurdish child Alan's body washed up by the sea onto the Turkish coast," he added.
He was referring to 3-year-old Alan al-Kurdi, and the images of his lifeless body on a Turkish beach that similarly stunned the world last year and focused attention on the plight of refugees and migrants escaping war and other hardships.