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Syrian sanctuary houses over 1,000 cats stranded by war
When Syria's war forced Alaa al-Jaleel to close his cat sanctuary in Aleppo in 2015 and head north to the rebel stronghold of Idlib, he took around 100 animals with him and reopened it there.

Now his successors at Ernesto's Sanctuary care for more than 1,000 - and feeding time tends to be loud and chaotic.

"Most of the animals are injured because of the war and because their owners had to leave them when they left their homes. We gave (the cats) shelter, medical care and food," its current manager, Mohamad Wattar, said.
SYRIA-ANIMALS/
RTXB0SIJ
March 31, 2021
Cats are pictured at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March...
Idlib, Syria
Cats are pictured at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib
Cats are pictured at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March 28, 2021. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
SYRIA-ANIMALS/
RTXB0SK8
March 31, 2021
Cats are pictured at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March...
Idlib, Syria
Cats are pictured at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib
Cats are pictured at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March 28, 2021. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
SYRIA-ANIMALS/
RTXB0SJX
March 31, 2021
Cats are pictured at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March...
Idlib, Syria
Cats are pictured at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib
Cats are pictured at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March 28, 2021. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
SYRIA-ANIMALS/
RTXB0SJV
March 31, 2021
Manager of Ernesto's sanctuary for cats, Mohamad Wattar, plays with cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021....
Idlib, Syria
Manager of Ernesto's sanctuary for cats, Mohamad Wattar, plays with cats in Idlib
Manager of Ernesto's sanctuary for cats, Mohamad Wattar, plays with cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March 28, 2021. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
SYRIA-ANIMALS/
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March 31, 2021
Manager of Ernesto's sanctuary for cats, Mohamad Wattar, feeds the cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021....
Idlib, Syria
Manager of Ernesto's sanctuary for cats, Mohamad Wattar, plays with cats in Idlib
Manager of Ernesto's sanctuary for cats, Mohamad Wattar, feeds the cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March 28, 2021. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
SYRIA-ANIMALS/
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March 31, 2021
Medical workers examine a cat at a vet clinic in Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28,...
Idlib, Syria
Medical workers examine a cat at a vet clinic in Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib
Medical workers examine a cat at a vet clinic in Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March 28, 2021. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
SYRIA-ANIMALS/
RTXB0TR3
March 31, 2021
Cats are pictured at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March...
Idlib, Syria
Cats are pictured at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib
Cats are pictured at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March 28, 2021. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
SYRIA-ANIMALS/
RTXB0TMJ
March 31, 2021
A cat sips water at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March...
Idlib, Syria
A cat sips water at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib
A cat sips water at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March 28, 2021. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
SYRIA-ANIMALS/
RTXB0TML
March 31, 2021
Cats are pictured at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March...
Idlib, Syria
Cats are pictured at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib
Cats are pictured at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March 28, 2021. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
SYRIA-ANIMALS/
RTXB0TMK
March 31, 2021
A worker plays with a cat at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken...
Idlib, Syria
A worker plays with a cat at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib
A worker plays with a cat at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March 28, 2021. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
SYRIA-ANIMALS/
RTXB0SND
March 31, 2021
A worker plays with a cat at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken...
Idlib, Syria
A worker plays with a cat at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib
A worker plays with a cat at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March 28, 2021. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
SYRIA-ANIMALS/
RTXB0SII
March 31, 2021
A worker reacts as he plays with a cat at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021....
Idlib, Syria
A worker reacts as he plays with a cat at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib
A worker reacts as he plays with a cat at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March 28, 2021. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
SYRIA-ANIMALS/
RTXB0SIH
March 31, 2021
A worker plays with a cat at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken...
Idlib, Syria
A worker plays with a cat at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib
A worker plays with a cat at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March 28, 2021. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
SYRIA-ANIMALS/
RTXB0SIG
March 31, 2021
A worker plays with cats at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken...
Idlib, Syria
A worker plays with cats at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib
A worker plays with cats at Ernesto's sanctuary for cats in Idlib, Syria March 28, 2021. Picture taken March 28, 2021. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi
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