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.