A drowned little boy washed up on a Turkish beach became the haunting image Wednesday of an unfolding humanitarian crisis that is shaking Europe.
Dressed in a bright red shirt and blue shorts, the toddler identified as 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi was found face down in the surf near the resort town of Bodrum.
Little Aylan was one of 17 refugees from war-torn Syria who set off in a dinghy in a desperate attempt to reach the Greek island of Kos and safety.
Turkish media reported they were from the Kurdish town of Kobani in northern Syria, which has seen fierce fighting between bloodthirsty Islamic State militants and local Kurdish forces.
Aylan’s overcrowded dinghy overturned in the Aegean Sea and he drowned along with his 5-year-old brother Galip and a dozen other frightened passengers.
None of them were wearing life jackets. And there was nothing the grim-faced Turkish police officer who found Aylan could do but gather the boy up in his arms and carry him off the beach.
The photo of Aylan rocketed around the world on Twitter bearing the hashtag, “KiyiyaVuranInsanlik,” which means “humanity washed ashore.”
Two other brothers who were on the doomed dinghy also drowned — Zainb Ahmet-Hadi, 11 and his younger brother Hayder, just 9.
Their grief-stricken mother, Zeynep, clung to her surviving 7-year-old daughter Rowad at a Turkish hospital and wept bitter tears for her lost boys.
Some 11 million people — about half the population of Syria — has either been killed or fled the country since fighting erupted in 2011.

Merit Macit/Xinhua Press/Corb
The belongings of Syrian refugees wash ashore in Bodrum, Turkey, after six people drowned, five of them children.
A Turkish official carries the body of drowned toddler from a popular tourist beach after boats carrying Syrian refugees hit rough waters.

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This summer, tens of thousands of frightened refugees have descended on Turkey’s Aegean coast determined to make it to the nearby Greek islands — their gateway to the European Union.
Aid agencies estimate that about 2,000 people a day have made the short but perilous crossing. Many of them have become victims of cruel smugglers intent on cramming as many people as possible on their flimsy boats.
One survivor Omer Mohsin told local media that the drowned Kurdish children were among the 175 people who were …Read More