Man Risks His Life To Save Cats In War-Torn Syria

When the "Cat Man of Aleppo," Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel, is not saving people, he is saving cats.

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Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel has been saving cats in war torn Aleppo, Syria.
John Virata

Civil war has been raging in Syria for more than 5 years, and hundreds of thousands of people have fled the country, leaving behind their homes, their possessions and their pets.

Pets face similar dangers as people do in war zones. But in the Syrian city of Aleppo, a man has been caring for and saving hundreds of cats, both strays and those abandoned by their families as they flee to safer countries.

Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel, an ambulance driver, started saving and caring for cats in 2014, according to The Dodo.

Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel with one of the many cats he has saved. Via Nobel Peace Prize to Alaa/Facebook

“When people left, the cats started coming to me,” Aljaleel told the BBC in an interview. “Some people just left them with me knowing that I love cats.”

For one little girl whose family fled to Turkey, Aljaleel sends updates and photos about the status of her pet. She had him promise to return the cat to her when she comes back to Syria.

These cats have found a sanctuary in the middle of a war zone in Syria. Via Nobel Peace Prize to Alaa/Facebook

When he first started looking after and caring for the animals, there were only 20 to 30 cats, Aljaleel told the BBC. In just a year, he was caring for more than 100 cats. That is when Aljaleel launched Il Gattaro d’Aleppo, a Facebook group dedicated to saving cats in the city.

Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel showing some love to one of the many cats that his group has rescued in Aleppo. Via Nobel Peace Prize to Alaa/Facebook

Aljaleel is a busy man. He saves people from the ravages of war, in addition to saving cats. He has had such an impact that a Facebook page has been launched to campaign for Aljaleel to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel carries a child to safety in war torn Aleppo. Via Nobel Peace Prize to Alaa/Facebook

“Someone who has mercy in their heart for people,” Aljaleel told the BBC, “has mercy for every living thing.”

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