Source: The Daily Mail – by Mark Nicol (Syrian Surgeon Says Russia is Targeting His Patients)
They target our hospitals… and hit us every time we move: Syrian surgeon says Russia is carrying out air strikes on his patients and colleagues despite ceasefire
- Surgeon working in Syria says Russian air strikes are targeting his patients
- Hospital staff being forced into desperate measures to protect themselves
- Includes removing all insignia from ambulances and working underground
- Dr Abdul Aziz said it was since Russia backed Syrian president in conflict
In the most horrific attack, a precision-guided Russian bomb reduced his hospital to rubble in a blast which killed five of his patients and three of his medical colleagues.
Dr Abdul Aziz, 50, only survived the attack on Christmas Day last year because he was working in the basement when Russian jets targeted the hospital in Azaz, northern Syria, causing carnage.
In his first interview since the attack, Dr Aziz said: ‘It was horrific, terrifying. People were screaming and crying, the hospital was ablaze and the place filled with dense smoke and nobody could see.
‘One by one we found out who had died. A nurse had been killed, an ambulance driver, a hospital porter and five patients who were in post-surgery had lost their lives.
‘We then huddled underground praying the aircraft would go away. It was cold, dark and everyone was choking on the dust. When it was over I burst into tears. I was alive but I felt no relief because more colleagues and patients had died.’
Dr Aziz said that since Russia entered the conflict on Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s side, hospital staff in Aleppo had been forced to take increasingly desperate measures to protect themselves from attacks.
These include removing all insignia from ambulances, removing any signs which indicate the location of medical facilities, and living and working underground.
He said: ‘All the hospitals I work at have been targeted by air strikes.
‘I am convinced it is the Russians because when it was the Syrian regime firing at us we could see the planes and that gave people some time to take cover, but the Russian jets remain at altitude and we don’t see or hear anything until it is too late.
‘The international community should be ashamed; they have let President Putin do this for months.’
On the ceasefire which began last weekend, Dr Aziz said: ‘A hospital in Aleppo was targeted by air strikes at 11.30 local time on the Friday night, just half an hour before the ceasefire came into effect.
‘There were no air strikes in Aleppo on the Saturday but by Sunday it was like normal again, with bombs being dropped every day.
‘For the local people there has been almost no respite.
‘And in the meantime Islamic State fighters are getting closer to Aleppo, to within ten miles to the east of the city.
‘I have seen no evidence of military action by the Syrian regime or Russia against IS, certainly there is collusion.’
Dr Aziz, who previously worked at Manchester’s Royal Infirmary hospital in 2005, is one of just seven surgeons left in Aleppo, a province in northern Syria.
The medic, who is married with a family of his own, said that the vital need to treat wounded children vastly outweighed fears for his own safety.
He said: ‘It is a living nightmare, one child after another, with hands missing, legs missing and devastated parents crying at the sheer hopelessness of the situation.
‘I cling to fragments of hope, like the boy whose legs I had to remove above the knee.
‘A year after I operated on him he sent me a photograph of himself smiling as he was using his artificial limbs.
‘He said that I should not worry about him any more. That was a very emotional moment.’
Last night, British surgeon David Nott OBE, who operated alongside Dr Aziz in Aleppo last year, paid tribute to him saying: ‘He and I are good friends. Dr Aziz has saved so many lives.
‘He is incredibly brave but it is also a tragedy to know what he is going through out there.’