Fourteen-year-old Syrian child actor Qusai Abtini was killed when the car in which he was traveling in was struck by a missile, that may or may not have targeted him.
He rose to fame on a sitcom Umm Abdou the Aleppan that is described as being like I Love Lucy, with a housewife who gets into shenanigans and bickers with her husband, except children played all the roles. It is the first sitcom produced out of rebel-held parts of Syria, and ran nearly 30 episodes, each about 10 minutes long, on the opposition station Halab Today TV. It was filmed in the city of Aleppo, which has been subjected to almost daily bombardment, and often overtly dealt with political issues.
Bashar Sakka, the director, said he cast kids because children are the witnesses to “the massacres committed by Assad against childhood.”
“Qusai was a very talented boy,” Sakka told The Associated Press. “We were looking for an intelligent boy,” he said from southern Turkey via Skype. “We wanted him to be free with ideas, and without fear of Bashar Assad‘s regime and its ruthlessness.”
During a recent bombing, his home was hit and his father was wounded and left wheelchair-bound. Two weeks ago, his father decided to send his children out of Aleppo to keep them safe.
As Abtini’s car left the rebel-held parts of Aleppo, a missile struck it. It was impossible to tell whether it was a targeted or random attack.
In a video of the symbolic funeral a few days later, his father in his wheelchair watches the marchers go by, holding a placard reading, “Qusai, Abu Abdu the Aleppan. You are a little hero. You scared the regime with your giant acts so they killed you.” (via AP)
He became a child actor who rose to local celebrity depicting the traumas of rebel-held areas of his home city, Aleppo. In the end, the 14-year-old boy fell victim to those traumas. His life and death underscored the suffering of Aleppans, whose city was once the commercial center of Syria but has since become one of the most grueling battlegrounds of the civil war.