Syria conflict: Clown of Aleppo 'dies in air strike'

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image copyrightAhmad al-Khatib/AP
image captionAhmad al-Khatib, a media activist in Aleppo, circulated this photo of Anas al-Basha

A Syrian man who worked as a clown to bring comfort to children in a rebel-held part of Aleppo is reported to have been killed in an air strike.

Anas al-Basha, 24, was a centre director for the civil society group, Space of Hope.

Government forces have been pounding rebel-held eastern districts of Aleppo as they continue an all-out assault to regain full control the city.

About 250,000 people are living under siege, among them 100,000 children.

There are no functioning hospitals left, and official food stocks are exhausted.

Mr Basha died in an air strike on Tuesday in the Mashhad neighbourhood, the Associated Press news agency reports.

"He lived to make children laugh and happy in the darkest most dangerous place," Mahmoud al-Basha, who identified himself as Anas' brother, wrote on Facebook.

"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."

image copyrightFacebook/Mahmoud al-Basha
image captionMahmoud al-Basha wrote on Facebook that Anas "lived to make children laugh"

Mr Basha's parents left the city before the government began its siege of eastern Aleppo in July, according to AP. He married just two months ago, and his wife remains trapped in the rebel enclave.

The government offensive has brought unprecedented shelling and bombardment in recent weeks, reportedly leaving hundreds of civilians dead and prompting more than 25,000 to flee their homes.

media captionAleppo: Key battleground in Syria's civil war

Mr 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."

"All of us in this field are exhausted, and we have to find strength to provide psychological support and continue with our work," Ms Hijazi added.

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