opinion

This is the true face of Donald Trump's presidency.

Warning. This article contains distressing content. 

If Donald Trump’s presidency could be represented in a single image, a picture of a 13-year-old boy yelling at his father to stop the burning would be it.

Last week, the cries of a Kurdish boy named Mohammed Hamid Mohammed covered in what are believed to be chemical burns could be heard ringing through the halls of a hospital in Tal Tamr, a small town in northeastern Syria.

The night before, late on Wednesday evening, a Turkish airstrike targeted the city of Ras al-Ayn.

Hamid Mohammed, the father of the 13-year-old boy, heard the jet heading towards their home before he felt it.

And then there was a bang.

Chaos. Bodies on fire. Groans and shrieks. The scenes that followed were the kind that imprint themselves on a person.

Mohammed found his children. Except for the son who shared his name.

Moments later, he appeared. The 13-year-old was on fire.

It would be 12 hours before Mohammed would see a doctor. His skin melted while he waited.

More than 70 per cent of his body was burned, and it’s unlikely that Mohammed will survive with the treatment available to him.

The screams of Mohammed – which reduced medical staff to tears – may have been lost to history, like those of so many girls and boys before him, if it weren’t for a Times journalist who was in the hospital.

This footage was taken in the hospital. Image via The Times.
Footage taken in the hospital. Image via The Times.

"The terrible wounds that had all but flayed the 13-year-old Mohammed Hamid Mohammed’s skin from his torso, penetrating deep into his flesh, suggested his injuries were caused by something far worse than blast alone," Anthony Loyd wrote for The Times

When shown images of the child's burns, Hamish de-Bretton Gordon, a British chemical weapons expert, told the paper: "This very much looks like it was caused by white phosphorus."

To use white phosphorus on human beings is to commit a war crime.

White phosphorus is a weapon made from the chemical phosphorus and is known to burn through bone. It sticks to the skin and cannot be put out.

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"In 24 hours I have been shown more photographs of these kinds of burn than at any recent stage in Syria’s war," de Bretton-Gordon said.

"White phosphorus is a horrific weapon, which can be delivered by aircraft or artillery. It reacts to the moisture in the skin in a way that intensifies its burning, so that water cannot put it out."

The war between Syria and Turkey is not new. But there were safeguards in place.

The Quicky will explain, in just 14 minutes, what is happening between Trump, Turkey and Syria. Post continues below. 

What happened to Mohammed was preventable. In fact, it was being actively prevented by the US military.

And then President Donald Trump removed the troops, for reasons that are unclear to those even closest to him.

There is not a level of complexity here that the lay person can't quite grasp. Trump's decision is baffling because it simply did not make sense.

The Kurds, an ethnic group who live in the Middle East, were allies with the United States in the fight against the Islamic State. They are a vulnerable community targeted by Turkey, and the work done by US troops has been unspeakably important.

"There's a lot of sand they can play with," Trump remarked before suggesting the Kurds were "no angels".

And then he removed their protection.

Generals, military experts, and politicians on both sides knew what would happen. But what eventuated was beyond their worst nightmares.

More than 300,000 Syrians have been displaced in a matter of weeks.

Dozens have been murdered.

And Trump allowed that. He unlocked a gate that was closed, for seemingly no other reason than to see what happened.

On Thursday night, 24 hours after Mohammed felt his skin slowly and excruciatingly melt, Trump said, "It was unconventional, what I did. I said, ‘They’re going to have to fight a little while’. Sometimes you have to let them fight a little while. Then people find out how tough the fighting is... Sometimes you have to let them fight. It’s like two kids in a lot, you’ve got to let them fight and then you pull them apart."

It is difficult, however, to pull people apart, when dozens are already dead on the floor.

That's what Mohammed's life is worth to Trump, a lazy schoolyard analogy.

An assistant surgeon at the hospital in Tal Tamr, Ibrahim Ali, said, "[Mohammed's] chances of survival are slim".

They do not have the facilities to treat a child with the wounds that have scarred Mohammed's skin.

The boy, whose life had barely begun, yelled in desperation for his father to make the burning stop.

His father was powerless.

It's Trump that should have never let the burning start in the first place.

 Here's what we can do to help:

You can donate to CARE Australia's Syria Appeal.

You can donate to World Vision's relief fund.  

You can support organisations like Welcome to Australia and the ASRC.

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