Social media users are claiming a photo shows a young Palestinian girl in the Gaza Strip assisting a baby with an oxygen mask. But the picture is unrelated to the Israel-Hamas war; an AFP photographer captured it in 2018 after a suspected Syrian chemical attack near Damascus.

"She was holding her sister's oxygen mask inside the ambulance. She had already passed away, yet her hand remained on the mask firmly," says text over the image. "She took her last Breath while taking care of her sister."

The same picture and text rocketed across X, formerly Twitter, and platforms such as Instagram in late December 2023 -- nearly three months into Israel's war with Hamas.

"We will Never forget. We will NEVER stop sharing. FREE PALESTINE !!" says a December 26 post on X.

RTL

© AFP

Similar posts have spread across social media since the start of the conflict, including in Spanish.

Israel's bombardment and ground offensive in Gaza have killed more than 21,320 people -- mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

The military operation began after fighters associated with the Palestinian Islamist movement attacked Israel on October 7, taking some 250 hostages and killing around 1,140 people -- also mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

But the photo of the child holding an oxygen mask up to an infant is unrelated to the war in Gaza.

Photographer Hasan Mohamed captured the photo for AFP on January 22, 2018 in Syria, reverse image searches show.

The picture depicts the girl and baby in a makeshift hospital after a reported chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, according to its caption.

RTL

© AFP

At least 21 people suffered breathing difficulties after the attack, AFP reported at the time.

The original photo also shows a second child -- a boy in a striped, yellow shirt -- beside the girl, who is wearing pink. Other AFP shots show the boy and other victims of the attack.

RTL

© AFP

RTL

© AFP

The children also appear in AFP footage from the scene.

The civil war in Syria erupted in 2011 after President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

The ongoing conflict has killed more than 500,000 people, reduced cities to rubble and displaced half of Syria's pre-war population -- while also roping in foreign countries and global jihadists.

During this time, Israel has also launched hundreds of air strikes on targets in Syria, primarily against Iran-backed forces and Hezbollah fighters as well as Syrian army positions. Israel rarely comments on strikes targeting Syria, but it has repeatedly said it will not allow Iran to expand its presence in the country.

AFP has debunked other misinformation about the Israel-Hamas war, including misrepresented visuals from Syria, here.