Covered in dust and the remains of yet another airstrike in the Syrian city of Idlib, a young man clutches a small baby and cries.
It’s hard to tell what his tears are for as he softly weeps in the back of an ambulance. Are they out of relief? Disbelief? It’s mostly silent as gloved hands dab at the baby’s dirty face. There is some blood, but her eyes are open. She makes little baby sounds. As she reaches up to her rescuer, he utters a plea over and over. “Ya Allah.” Dear God.
She’s not his daughter, but he later tells a reporter it felt like she was. The man, Abu-Kifah, is a Syrian Civil Defense volunteer. They call them White Helmets, and they are often the first on the scene for moments like this.
Fortunately for Abu-Kifah and his charge, this is a moment of consolation amongst pain. The baby and her family survived the attack. He and three or four other people dug for hours to free the infant from the rubble. He estimates she is no more than 30 days old.
The “White Helmets,” nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize this year, have saved thousands of lives over years of fighting brought on by the Syrian Civil War. The violence is so constant it’s easy for those on the outside to become numb, accustomed to horror. But on the front lines, there before the dust even settles, the White Helmets can’t help but care. And sometimes, they can’t help but cry.
By AJ Willingham, CNN