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'He's my inspiration': Young Syrian boy's remarkable recovery from horror blast

Three months ago, ITV News Middle East Correspondent Geraint Vincent met Yusef Rajab - a two-year-old Syrian boy left close to death by an airstrike on his home town that killed his mother and older brother.

Yusef was badly burned in the attack, and doctors feared he wouldn't make it out alive.

As Geraint has discovered, he has since made a remarkable recovery.

Warning: This report contains images some may find distressing.

When Yusef turns his head, his now three-year-old eyes open wide to see some new sight in his new home. A long scar stretches across his neck.

Yusef is a survivor of Syria’s war - but only just.

Last summer, his home in the Douma area of east Damascus was destroyed by a regime airstrike.

The explosion killed his mother and his older brother Yassir, and Yusef was horribly burned.

The severe burns left Yusef in constant pain. Credit: ITV News

When he first arrived at the hospital, the burns were so extensive, the doctors didn't think Yusef was going to make it.

But the hours passed, and then the days, and the little boy didn’t die.

After a few weeks he became strong enough to endure the operations to graft skin onto the parts of his body where it had been burnt away.

Yusef is comforted by his father as he lay in hospital. Credit: ITV News

Now, six months later, wrapped up against the cold, there's little outward sign of the suffering this child has endured.

The red sores which pocked his face have healed completely. The pain is still there though.

At night, the surgical scars on his body start to irritate Yusef, and he scratches them so much they bleed. He doesn't sleep for more than half an hour at a time.

To the untrained eye Yusef bares few scars from the tragedy. Credit: Sean Swann/ITV News

Yusuf's father Mohammed used money raised in the UK to take his surviving son out of Syria three weeks ago.

It took them five days to wind their way through the government militia checkpoints on the outskirts of Damascus, in between the fighting, and across the mountains in the North to find sanctuary in southern Turkey.

So father and son now number among that country's two million Syrian refugees.

Yusef, left, with his father and older brother, who was killed in the blast. Credit: ITV News

Mohammed has no plans to follow the route across the sea to Europe taken by so many of his countrymen.

He has found a place where Yusef will be able to get the medical treatment he needs, and is confident of earning the money to pay for it.

Mohammed is a tiler by trade and hopes to find work in the construction industry in a growing Arabic-speaking community which he sees no benefit in leaving.

Yusef's father calls him 'my inspiration'. Credit: ITV News

He is grateful for the help he has received, and at the end of a year in which his family life was destroyed, Mohammed is determined to build a new one.

The tears come quickly when he speaks of what he has lost, but it's clear what gives this decent man the strength to keep going.

The scar on Yusef's cheek stretches again as the boy reaches up to kiss his father on the cheek.

"He is my inspiration," says Mohammed.