'Cat man of Aleppo' is a superhero to Syria's stray felines
AN ambulance driver dubbed the 'cat man of Aleppo' is continuing his brave battle to care for the distressed strays - after his first sanctuary was bombed and gassed during the final stages of the siege of the Syrian city.
Mohammed Alaa al-Jaleel, 44, stayed behind in Aleppo despite the danger posed to him by fierce fighting and bombing in the area after a civil war broke out in the middle-eastern city in 2011.
While in the city, he took care of hundreds of stray cats left behind when families fled their pets and by 2016 was left with 170 cats to feed and a new nickname 'the Cat Man of Aleppo'.
He had been mad about cats since he was a boy. As a young adult in the city, he would drop by the butchers on his way home from work as an electrician to ask for scraps to feed street cats in his neighbourhood.
When war broke out, he put down his tools to become an ambulance driver to help ferry the wounded - but never stopped bringing food to his feline friends.
With the help of donations from friends and social media fans, he set up his first cat sanctuary in the city. But in late 2016, it was bombed and then chlorine-gassed during the intense final stages of the siege of Aleppo. Most of his 170 cat were lost or killed.
He brings any cats abandoned due to fighting and brings them back, to the shelter, financed by online crowdfunding campaigns, which also serves as an animal clinic with its in-house vet. He has also expanded the sanctuary to include an orphanage and kindergarten.