Millions of people have been forced to flee their homes in Syria. But what happens to their pets?
Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel, also known as ‘the cat man of Aleppo’, has taken in more than a hundred stray and abandoned cats.
Many of these kitties had to be left behind when their owners fled the country’s civil war.
Speaking to BBC’s Panorama for their special ‘Life Under Siege’ programme, Mohammad said: ‘Some people just left them with me knowing that I love cats.’
Before the war Mohammad was an electrician. However, since the lengthy conflict erupted he has driven ambulances in the city, rescuing people in need.
He also runs the cat sanctuary – and despite taking in just 20 cats in 2011, a year later there were more than a hundred in his care.
‘Any stray cats in Aleppo, or pet cats left behind by residents, we protect them in this little sanctuary,’ he told the show last night.
And although most of his friends have had to escape, Mohammad told the BBC that he would never leave the cats behind.
‘Since everyone left the country, including my own friends, these cats have become my friends here,’ he said.
‘I said I’ll stay with them no matter what happens.
‘Someone who has mercy in their heart for humans has mercy for every living thing.’