NEW DELHI: A picture of a five year old Syrian boy covered in blood and dust has grabbed media attention worldwide. Omran Daqneesh is pictured sitting in an ambulance after he was pulled out of a building hit by an air strike in the battered city of Aleppo.

In a video released by Syrian anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center (AMC), the boy is seen wiping his dusty forehead with his hand. As he realises that he is bleeding, he quickly settles his hand back in his lap.

Thousands of people reacted to the image and video online, as the horrors of the war in Syria came to the forefront. Aleppo, particularly, is caught between the cross fire as rebel forces battle the Syrian government, with world powers such as Russia and the United States complicating matters further. Russia, for instance, supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whereas the United States maintains that Assad’s removal is crucial to restoring peace to the country.

Two million civilians, including 10,000 children, remain trapped in Aleppo, as fighting has intensified following advances by insurgents embedded in the eastern part of Aleppo two weeks ago. Since then, Russia and Syria have stepped up air bombardments of insurgent-held areas in the battered city.

Russia even defended its use of Iranian air bases to carry out the bombings, insisting that it is not violating a UN resolution that forbids supplying fighter jets to Tehran. "There has been no supply, sale or transfer of combat jets to Iran," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday in comments reported by the Russian state news agency TASS. "These jets are being used by Russian Air forces with Iranian consent within an anti-terrorist operation in Syria on the request of the legal Syrian government.

The Russian FM was responding to comments by US State Department spokesman Mark Toner, who said on Tuesday that Russia might be violating UN Security Council Resolution 2231 by using Iranian territory to launch air raids in Syria.

Reports also suggest that Russia is considering joining forces with the US in Aleppo, as world condemnation mounts following reports of the unprecedented scale of death and destruction in the city.

At the time of writing, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned of an unprecedented "humanitarian catastrophe" in Aleppo and urged Russia and the United States to quickly reach a deal on a ceasefire in the city and elsewhere in the country. "In Aleppo we risk seeing a humanitarian catastrophe unprecedented in the over five years of bloodshed and suffering in the Syrian conflict," Ban reportedly told the UN Security Council in his latest monthly report on aid access.

The UN mandated human rights panel also issued a statement warning that the situation of civilians in Aleppo is “critical and demands immediate attention and response.” “The situation in Aleppo city has been catastrophic for many years. As unthinkable as it is, the current attacks suggest the agony of its civilians is about to deepen,” the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria said in a statement. “These attacks appear to form the prelude to a siege, designed to force the capture of the city through an already-documented strategy of ‘surrender or starve’,” it added.

According to the Commission, civilians are being killed in the city due to daily aerial bombardments by Government and pro-Government forces, while many have also died trapped under rubble of collapsed buildings surrounding impact sites. Subsequent strikes have killed first responders, including members of the Syrian Civil Defence, as they attempted to rescue survivors.

Additionally, the bombardments have also destroyed more than 25 hospitals and clinics since January, killing patients and medical staff. Among the healthcare facilities destroyed are maternity hospitals, paediatric units and emergency wards.

“Those inside the armed group-held neighbourhoods describe lives of horror, under near-constant threat of death from airstrikes. There is limited food, water, and supplies for babies and infants. Access to medical care in these areas is largely non-existent,” said the Commission, underlining the dire situation of the civilians in the city.

The situation of civilians in Government-controlled area is equally desperate as scores have been killed by indiscriminate ground shelling of armed groups, as coalitions including Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam, and the terrorist group Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (previously Jabhat al-Nusra) mount their counteroffensive against Government attack, the statement added.

More than two million civilians in the city do not have access to running water, and markets, bakeries and water pumping stations have been destroyed in airstrikes and barrel bombings.