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Syria’s ‘Cat Man’ Sets Up Another Feline Sanctuary After Destruction of First in bombing

Dubbed the 'cat man of Aleppo,' 44-year-old Mohammed Alaa al-Jaleel chose not to leave even amid fighting in the city.

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Updated:August 8, 2019, 9:33 AM IST
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Syria’s ‘Cat Man’ Sets Up Another Feline Sanctuary After Destruction of First in bombing
The 'Cat Man of Aleppo' | Image credit: AFP
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A Syrian ambulance driver ,who stayed back in the country’s war-ravaged capital city to care for the dozens of cats left behind by residents fleeing for their safety, has set up another feline sanctuary, years after the first one was “bombed and chlorine-gassed.”

Dubbed the 'cat man of Aleppo,' 44-year-old Mohammed Alaa al-Jaleel chose not to leave Aleppo even as fighting between rebels and government forces erupted in the city.

His first sanctuary for stray cats in Aleppo was bombed and gassed during the city’s final siege, according to a Daily Mail report.

“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',” the report says.

As a young adult in the city, he would ask butchers on his way home from work for scraps to feed street cats in his neighbourhood.

When war broke out in 2011, the man quit his electrician job to become an ambulance driver and help ferry the wounded.

But he never stopped caring for his feline friends, bringing them food, and eventually setting up his first “cat sanctuary in the city with the help of donations from friends and social media admirers.

But in late 2016, the sanctuary was “bombed and then chlorine-gassed during the intense final stages of the siege of Aleppo,” according to the Daily Mail report.

“Most of his 170 cat were lost or killed.”

After moving from one Aleppo district to another, the man has now set up a new cat sanctuary in Kafr Naha, a village west of Aleppo and controlled by the country’s opposition.

The shelter, which is being financed by online crowd funding campaigns, also serves as an animal clinic with its in-house vet. It also includes an orphanage and kindergarten.

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