Aleppo Hospital Airstrikes Limit Civilian Access to Trauma Care in Syria

“Every day, I say goodbye to a new member of the medical staff who has died."

ByABC News
November 21, 2016, 12:29 PM

— LONDON -- Airstrikes pounded rebel-held Aleppo today for the seventh day in a row, leaving civilians with little access to trauma care after multiple hospital attacks.

“I am well, but I don’t know for how long,” Mohamad Abu Rajab, a radiologist in eastern Aleppo, told ABC News in Arabic. “Every day, I say goodbye to a new member of the medical staff who has died.”

He said he has hidden in a shelter for two days because of the heavy airstrikes.

Since the Syrian government and its Russian allies kicked off a renewed bombing campaign on eastern Aleppo, several hospitals have been damaged by multiple bombardments.

Two of the eastern Aleppo hospitals that are already out of service were attacked, activists said today. Even though the hospitals were not functioning, members of staff were still inside, trying to save equipment.

“The situation is miserable,” Farida, a doctor in Aleppo who gave only her first name out of fear for repercussions, told ABC News in Arabic. “The airstrikes haven’t stopped for several hours.”

Hamza Khatib, a doctor who said he was working at one of the few functioning hospitals left in eastern Aleppo, told ABC News that they are receiving 350 to 400 injured people a day.

The White Helmets, a volunteer corps of first responders, reported that 29 civilians had been killed Sunday in Aleppo and its countryside, and that four children and their parents were killed after a poisonous gas attack on Aleppo’s opposition-held al-Sakhour neighborhood.

Syrian government warplanes this morning raided eastern Aleppo and dropped barrel bombs on several of its neighborhoods, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, leaving at least five civilian dead. Clashes between rebels and government forces also continued in the northern and southern part of the city, the Observatory said.

“Crazy targeting is back again today,” said Wissam Zarqa, a teacher in eastern Aleppo. “My neighborhood has been targeted more than 10 times today.”

Zarqa said he had accompanied a man who was looking for his father. The father had been in one of the hospitals that were attacked, he said.

"We went to many houses where people have been moved after the attacks," said Zarqa. "He couldn't find him and now he is looking for other houses where his father might be."

Eastern Aleppo is surrounded by pro-government forces and access to the area has been cut. Since 2012, Aleppo has been split between the rebel-held east and the government-held west.

Eastern Aleppo is the Syrian opposition’s largest stronghold and the government has tried to retake it by tightening the siege and dropping bombs on the area. In September and October, Syrian and Russian airstrikes on eastern Aleppo killed hundreds of civilians and wounded thousands, according to the United Nations.

The U.N. said earlier this month that aid workers had handed out the last of its food rations. Eastern Aleppo has not received any U.N. aid since July and its residents have little access to food, water, health care and fuel.

"As of yesterday, there are barely any functional hospitals left in eastern Aleppo able to treat those who have escaped death as all the hospitals are being bombed into oblivion," Stephen O'Brien, the United Nation's humanitarian chief, said in a speech today to the U.N. Security Council.

More than 750 medical personnel have been killed in Syria, according to the U.N. "Humanitarian conditions in eastern Aleppo have gone from terrible to terrifying and now barely survivable by human beings," O'Brien said.

Meanwhile, more than 350 mortars and rockets have been reportedly launched by armed rebel groups indiscriminately into western Aleppo since Nov. 1, killing more than 60 people, including women and children, and injuring more than 350, according to the U.N

Opposition forces this weekend attacked a school in the Al-Furqan district in western Aleppo with mortar shells and rocket projectile reportedly, killing eight children and injuring several others, while the local university was also hit, the U.N. said.

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