In Aleppo, We Are Running Out of Coffins

Owen Freeman

Owen Freeman

By Osama Abou el Ezz May

ALEPPO, Syria — LAST week, Syrian or Russian jets bombed Al Quds hospital, in the eastern part of the divided city of Aleppo. At least 50 people lost their lives, and some 80 more were injured.

Among those killed in the attack was my dear friend and colleague, Dr. Muhammad Wassim Mo’az, a kind man who cared deeply for his patients and his community. He slept in the hospital in case there was an emergency and he had to rush to treat babies and children. He was the last pediatrician in Aleppo.

Another friend, Dr. Mohammed Ahmad, was also killed in the airstrikes. Dr. Ahmad was beloved by colleagues and Aleppo residents. He used to volunteer with children, teaching them how to prevent dental disease during wartime. He was one of the 10 dentists remaining in eastern Aleppo.

Dr. Wassim and Dr. Ahmad join hundreds of my Syrian colleagues who have been killed during the last five years of civil war. Physicians for Human Rights has counted at least 730 murdered medical professionals. Deliberate attacks on hospitals and medical workers have become the norm. Just one day after the bombing of Al Quds hospital, a primary care center that treated more than 2,000 people a month was destroyed by another airstrike. In the last week, schools, clinics and mosques have been deliberately bombed, too.

As one of the few remaining doctors in Syria, I have watched the “cessation of hostilities” that was agreed on in February crumble. Imperfect though it was, it offered Syrian civilians a brief respite from five years of violence. People had begun to recover during the truce, to get their lives back. But we are now seeing a level of destruction that will leave an already battered city in ruins.

It is hard to describe what it is like to live in Aleppo, waiting for death. Some people even pray for its swift arrival to take them away from this burning city. The bombardment has reached such ferocity that even the stones are catching fire. This week I helped bury a man whose body was so charred that no one could identify him.

Planes overhead vie to be the next to strike. Their targets are not fighters, but civilians — mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters whose luck has run out. That is what we live on now, luck. Everyone is terrified and we feel abandoned and alone.

The New York Times

Categories: History, Human rights, Middle East, Opinion/Editorial, Syria, Terrorism, Top stories, War crimes, World history, World news

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6 replies

  1. Living, if you can call it that, and waiting for the next air strike is no life at all.

    Disgusting lack of humanity in this world.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is good to hear from you again, bluebirdsister. It has been a long time. I have been thinking about you lately.

      The deliberate targeting of civilian populations is the very definition of terrorism.

      Bashar al-Assad is an utterly delusional, narcissistic psychopath. He is a genocidal monster. What does this lunatic think he will win by this war against his own people? That he will continue to reign supreme over a vast and gruesome cemetery? He must be mad, completely stupid, or both.

      Likewise, does Putin truly believe that he is restoring Russia’s prestige and influence in the Arab world?


      Liked by 1 person

      • I wish the world could come together and stop maniacs like Assad and Putin, but we aren’t to that place of cooperation yet……someday.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I don’t honestly believe that it is possible to prevent evil in the world. Maybe the world community could have done something to stop Hitler, but I doubt it. Stalin couldn’t stop Hitler.

          When whole societies seem to embrace insanity–or fail to resist it adequately–then I think bad things are inevitable. I honestly wonder if the human race has a future, or whether we will have wiped ourselves off of the face of the Earth before the end of this century.

          I don’t understand the thinking of Putin and Assad. Nor do I understand the insanity of Kim Jong-un. These men don’t seem able to comprehend the potentially serious consequences of their actions.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Frankly, I don’t think we can ever prevent evil in the world either, but with cooperation, we can address people like Assad and Putin.

    The UN sanctioned No-Fly-Zone implemented in Libya prevented Kadaffi from making the streets run red with blood, even though there is turmoil there still, we were able to do something.

    Of course there will be a struggle for power when a dictator falls, and I believe that countries have the right to their civil wars if something possitive comes out of it.

    In Syria, the vetoes of Russia and China prevented such actions and the situation , IMO, is much worse than it possibly could have been if those with veto power hadn’t fought the rest.

    That place of cooperation that I imagine is almost like the way countries came together in Libya. All countries having a pre-set agenda on how maniacs like Putin and Assad are dealt with systematically.

    You may be right, maybe we’ll wipe ourselves from the face of this planet before we ever reach an intelligent way of cooperating with each other.

    Kim Jong-Un is a crazy one, but if he unloads a nuke on any country, it could be the end of his reign.

    Liked by 2 people

    • When Ukraine agreed to surrender their nuclear arsenal, they did so under agreements with Russia and NATO: Russia would respect Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty, and NATO would defend Ukraine against Russian aggression. It’s easy enough to say we’ll cooperate to do this, that, and the other thing. Talk is cheap. Reality has a heavy price.

      Vladimir Putin is insane. He is a textbook psychopath. He is not afraid of military confrontation with the United States and NATO. He is demonstrating that on a daily basis. To assume that he is just bluffing is a pretty big assumption. It would really suck to be wrong about that; the whole world could end up looking like Aleppo in a heartbeat.

      Talk of a no-fly zone over Syria makes for a nice political campaign sound bite. In October, Hillary Clinton was advocating one in Syria, but by December she was trying to walk it back, because she realized that she’d said a dumb thing.

      Syria is not Iraq and it isn’t Libya. These are false comparisons. Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi military had only antiquated air defense systems that were easily taken out by coalition aircraft. And Libya had almost no air defenses at all. Syria, on the other hand, has state-of-the art Russian air defense systems.

      Syria also has a defense agreement with Russia. A military attack on Syria is an attack on a Russian ally. It is an act of war under international law. The UN will not sanction that, and our NATO allies don’t want to be dragged into another endless war in the Islamic world. Anyone who thinks that Russia isn’t dangerous and serious hasn’t been paying attention. I don’t know about you, but I’m scared to death by Russia’s behavior.

      To say that there will be a struggle for power after a dictator falls is to completely ignore everything that has happened since the American invasion of Iraq, which was loudly supported by all of the same people who are now wanting U.S. military intervention in Syria. ISIS attacked American soldiers for a decade in Iraq. And then they took over half of Iraq and Syria. Are we winning yet?

      I care. I care very deeply about what is happening to the Syrian people. I once supported a military option in Syria, but that was before I understood what that means. I actually listen to what the Syrian human rights activists say: they complain bitterly about every Syrian killed by coalition airstrikes. The Syrian opposition doesn’t want American intervention. They never have.

      Liked by 1 person

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