Mohammed Badra, a Syrian staff photographer for the european pressphoto agency (epa) was on Wednesday nominated for the 2019 World Press Photo of the year for his powerful image capturing the aftermath of an alleged chemical attack during a government siege of Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus.
Born in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Badra's coverage of the years-long siege of his city and the surrounding towns and villages just outside the capital, not only helped give a voice to local residents in the fog of war but also ensured potential war crimes on civilian populations were documented and shown to a wider audience.
His haunting image, "Victims of an Alleged Gas Attack Receive Treatment in Eastern Ghouta," taken in an Eastern Ghouta hospital following a pro-regime bombardment on the village of al-Shifunieh on Feb. 25, 2018, did just this.
"The subject is confronting you and breaking the wall, and you are forced to confront the situation in a very direct way," Paul Moakley, deputy director of Photography and Visual Enterprise at Time Magazine and 2019 jury member said in a statement.
Lars Boering, World Press Photo director told EFE that the photograph was important as it gives an account of what happens after the initial explosion and shows how it damages humanity.
Badra's image shows three men and a child receiving treatment in a basic medical center; two of the men in the background face the camera with a glazed look in their eyes, whilst a third man and little boy, who is wrapped in a blanket and sitting upright, require breathing apparatus.
"It should be able to tell the story in one image, but at the same time be intriguing and make you pause and look at it again," Alice Martins, photojournalist and 2019 jury member, said.
"In a moment like this people don’t really understand what just happened. And I really feel like the photograph shows that," Martins added.
Badra, who in 2016 won the TIME Wire Photographer of the Year.
The deadly siege of Eastern Ghouta lasted five years and ended on Apr. 14, 2018 with the evacuation of the motley crew of rebel groups in the area to Idlib. Bashar al Assad's regime, backed by Russia, bombarded the opposition-held pocket almost on a daily basis.
War monitors estimate the civilian death toll in that period was upwards of 10,000.
Several alleged chemical attacks took place in the region, although these were always denied by the regime.
Badra put down his tools three years into his degree at the University of Damascus to begin documenting the war in his home town. He became an epa staff photographer in 2015.
Other photos in the competition include a Marco Gualazzin photo titled "Almajiri Boy," a quiet image featuring a forlorn-looking boy standing in front of a scruffy graffiti-ridden wall in the Chad Basin, central Africa.
Catalina Martin-Chico's photo of a pregnant FARC guerrilla fighter that shed light on a ruthless policy the guerrilla force imposed on its female fighters which prohibited pregnancy and forced terminations as well as abandoning children at birth.
Chris McGrath's picture of an unidentified man holding pack hoards of press outside the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul shortly after the disappearance and murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October was also nominated.
The fifth nominated photo, by John Moore, shows a Honduran toddler crying as her mother is searched by a US Border Patrol agent.
Brent Stirton's striking photo of a female conservation warrior in Zimbabwe was also nominated for the prestigious international photography competition, which is due to announce its results on Apr. 11.