It was a familiar scene for the Middle East: a bomb had just tore a building to smithereens, leaving chaos, death and destruction all around it. Several Muslims were chanting the familiar jihadist battle cry, ‘Allahu Akbar!’ Allahu Akbar!’ often heard after a mass slaughter or terrorist attack.
As an American Christian, I’ve never held that phrase with much reverence. Why would I? After all, the only time I ever – and I mean ever – hear it is when a group of terrorists are hoisting their AK-47’s high into the air in celebration of killing innocent civilians.
But this time was different.
The bombing was courtesy of Russian fighter jets, not ISIS. And the group of (presumably) Muslims chanting ‘Allahu Akbar!’ were not celebrating another successful terror attack — they were rescuing a small, two-week old child from the rubble of yet another in the relentless string of air strikes pounding Syria’s civilian population.
They had been digging for 12 hours after learning the tiny baby was trapped but still alive, and so they were exhausted. The video below is raw footage from the dramatic rescue. As soon/as they pull the baby out, emotional cries of ‘Allahu Akbar!’ (God is great).
I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by it all. I realized something as I watched, welling up with emotion – that as they shouted I actually cheered along with them. I thought, if I was there among them I would’ve had no problem shouting out the very phrase that’s been 100% associated with terrorism and evil. This tragic yet beautiful moment did more than just save a life, it shattered perspectives.
The baby was saved by a group of heroic citizens in Syria who rush in to the rubble after every air strike hits war torn Syria. They operate in areas where official government groups cannot get to. There are over 2900 members in various cities in towns across Syria.
They’re called “The White Helmets” and Netflix recently ran a powerful documentary featuring their bravery. It’s only 40 minutes, but well worth the watch. You can see the precise moment the ‘miracle baby’ was rescued in this trailer for the doc:
The moment is also shown in this extended clip posted to Youtube:
The baby was just two weeks old, and survived over 12 hours trapped beneath a substantial amount of rubble. Newborn babies eat every two hours, making the rescue even more remarkable.
The White Helmets do not take sides in the conflict, they operate under the mantra of “to save a life is to save humanity” and will rescue anyone they can, regardless of who they are.