A video has emerged purporting to show a young Syrian boy braving heavy sniper fire to make a daring rescue of a small girl frozen with fear under a car.
The one-minute clip, posted on the YouTube site of the activist Shaam News Network channel, seems to show a boy of around eight years old get up after being shot at and run to save another child stranded in the middle of the road under a burnt-out truck.
Some viewers have speculated that the boy pretends to have been hit by one of the bullets in order to fool the sniper and get a break in the gunfire, before running up and leading the cowering girl out of harm’s way.
A group of men, who film the scene from behind the safety of a brick wall, can be heard exclaiming “allahu akbar” (God is great) when the boy gets up after appearing to be shot dead.
The two run down the street hand-in-hand as they are shot at again, with bullets kicking up dust around them, but they both appear to survive.
The video has been viewed more than 200,000 times since it was uploaded on Monday.
The Telegraph cannot independently verify the footage but it is thought the incident took place in Yabroud – a town near the Lebanese border which was the last stronghold of the moderate Free Syrian Army. Experts tell the paper they have no reason to doubt its authenticity.
It would not be the first time gunmen had targeted children in the nearly four years of bloody civil war.
More than 11,000 children have died in war-torn Syria since 2011, including hundreds targeted by snipers, a report by the London-based Oxford Research group revealed earlier this month.
The group found that sniper fire killed 389 Syrian children under the age of 17 between March 2011 and August 2013.
The UN has previously accused the Syrian regime of “crimes against humanity” – including the use of snipers against small children.