Story Behind the Viral Video of Syrian Teen Who Refused to Abandon Puppy as He Fled War-Torn Country

Aslan brought his puppy Rose along on his 300-mile journey.

ByNICOLE PELLETIERE
September 23, 2015, 11:40 AM

— -- A Syrian teen is capturing worldwide attention after appearing in a viral video with his adorable puppy that he refused to give up before his 300-mile trek from his war-stricken country.

"People are really connecting to Aslan and his dog, but he is just one of scores of Syrians who have made similar journeys," Ariane Rummery of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees told ABC News. "They take those risks because the situation they have fled is even more dangerous than the journey they’ve have taken."

"I think Aslan’s bravery shows the resilience and courage of refugees and hopefully people in Western countries will understand what refugees can contribute to their new countries," Rummery said.

PHOTO: Aslan, 17, who fled his home in Syria, walked over 300 miles to the Greek island of Lesbos and brought his puppy Rose along for the journey.
Aslan, 17, who fled his home in Syria, walked over 300 miles to the Greek island of Lesbos and brought his puppy Rose along for the journey.
UNHCR

Aslan, 17, who left his native city of Damascus, traveled over 300 miles on foot to the Greek island of Lesbos, according to the video.

His only known travel companion is his adorable puppy -- a small husky named Rose.

"They said, 'You can't take a dog,'" Aslan says in the video. "I have food and I have water. I love my dog."

When the filmmaker asks the teen why he would bring Rose on the grueling journey, Aslan simply replies, again: "I love my dog."

Rummery said the video of Aslan was filmed by UNHCR in an effort to "humanize" the bigger story behind the war in Syria.

"If people can meet someone like Aslan, and video, and realize refugees are just like you and me -- ordinary people with ordinary passions and pets, then, hopefully, they will have more sympathy and welcome the refugees into their communities," she said. "The last few months in Syria have been absolutely brutal. Fighting has really intensified in almost all governorates, with rocket and mortar attacks on Damascus increasing, rising vehicle explosions in major cities."

"There is no sign of a solution on the horizon," Rummery added. "So, more people are moving not just out of Syria but further afield to Europe to have a chance of rebuilding their lives."

UNHCR said many Syrian refugees are faced with the decision of leaving their pets, even family members, behind as they depart in search for safety.

The video of Aslan has racked up 4.8 million views since posted on UNHCR's Facebook page on Sept. 19.

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