A Syrian man who worked as a clown to bring relief to children in hospitals in a rebel-held area of Aleppo has been killed in an air strike. Anas al-Basha, 24, was a centre director for for the civil society group Space of Hope.
He died in an air strike in the Mashhad neighbourhood on Tuesday (29 November), news agency AP reported. It is believed the strike was carried out by government forces or by Russia.
Syrian government forces and their allies have increased their offensive in rebel-held eastern Aleppo to regain control of the area.
Basha's supervisor, Samar Hijazi, told AP she would remember him as a friend who loved to work with children.
"He would act out skits for the children to break the walls between them," she said. "All of us in this field (of childcare) are exhausted, and we have to find strength to provide psychological support and continue with our work."
Aleppo-based journalist Mahmoud al-Basha, who identified himself as Anas's brother, confirmed in a Facebook post the death of the man.
"The Russians and Assad regime killed my brother Anas. Anas who refused to leave Aleppo and decided to stay there to continue his work as a volunteer to help the civilians and give gifts for the children in the streets to bring hope for them. All what Anas wanted is to bring happiness to the children of Aleppo," he wrote.
"I am proud of you my brother, GOOD BYE DEAR. May you rest in peace better than brought kindness in a cruel world."
Basha's parents left the rebel-held area of Aleppo before the Syrian government started its siege in the summer. However, Basha decided to stay.
The Syrian army and its allies captured a large swathe of eastern Aleppo from rebels earlier this week. Government officials say they want to "liberate" the area, calling opposition fighters "terrorists", and accusing them of holding civilians as hostages.
It is believed that more than 50,000 people have fled rebel-held eastern Aleppo in recent days, but at least 250,000 people are still trapped in the city. There are no functioning hospitals left in eastern Aleppo and food stocks are running low, with humanitarian organisations struggling to deliver food and aids.
Earlier this month, UN humanitarian chief O'Brien has warned that eastern Aleppo is on the verge of becoming "one giant graveyard".