May 31st, 2011
03:00 PM ET

In death, a 13-year-old becomes a symbol of Syrian opposition

(CNN) - The translation of the voice below the macabre YouTube video clip reads, "Look at the bruises on his face along with his broken neck." The clip is a two-and-a-half-minute gruesome catalogue of wounds on a 13-year-old child's body.

The body of Hamza Ali al-Khateeb.

On April 29, demonstrators from villages surrounding Daraa, Syria, marched on the city in an attempt to break the Syrian military siege there. Their intent was to bring in much-needed supplies, including milk for babies and crucial medicines. At the time, the crackdown on Daraa was so intense that eyewitnesses spoke of bodies bloating in the streets and the injured being treated at makeshift secret clinics to avoid detection by the Syrian security forces.

On that day, eyewitnesses say, security forces fired indiscriminately on them, killing and wounding dozens. Countless others were detained in a mass roundup.

Among them, says his family, was Hamza. He got separated from his father in the chaos.

A month later, the family received his body. The video was taken at that time by a relative, the family says.

Much of the video of the child's corpse is too graphic to broadcast. His face is bloated and purple. His body is covered in bruises. There are gunshot wounds to his torso, and his genitals are mutilated.

CNN cannot independently verify what happened to Hamza or the authenticity of the video.

Hamza's family was threatened after the video was initially broadcast by other outlets, intermediaries told CNN, and they became too petrified to talk about what happened, even to close friends.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Middle East
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Leilani

    "May god be with this little boy & help his family through this rough stage in life" its so sad a 13yr old should never had went through that it makes me appreciate my two kids even more then I already do.

    May 31, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  2. MARY

    We shouldnt be worried about children being tortured in other countries when we have child sex offenders and killers in america lets concentrate on our own for a change . This is all political spin im sure other children are being tortured in other countries we have knowlege of,even child suicide bombers .third world countries do not care. LETS WORRY ABOUT OUR OWN AMERICAN CHILDREN that have food taken out of their mouth by the births of illegal immigrants here in america that burden our economy.period. I feel for this child but we have our own to think about that never get any news coverage.

    May 31, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
  3. jodeh

    on behalf of the Syrian people, i would like to express our deep appreciation for your support in shedding some light on our revolution and the brutal crackdown we face by the government.
    Mr.Cooper, you are one great journalist and freedom supporter and don't need anyone to tell you that, especially that the videos and pictures speak for themselves; so if some hired pro-government people leave comments attacking you and the authenticity of the news coming out of Syria, it's obvious that it's just the way dictatorships work.
    once more, thank you for your support and we hope that there would be more light on the the tragedies happening in Syria, so that the world know the crimes of the tyrant regime.

    May 31, 2011 at 7:55 pm |