Witness to War Crimes
"How can the world sit idle as the Syrian government, aided by Russia and Iran, brutalizes the people of Aleppo?"
"I saw this carnage for myself when I volunteered in an Aleppo field hospital in July. I was the last American to leave before Syrian government forces encircled and besieged the city."
"I saw human bodies dismembered, burned, crushed, ripped open, cut in half. By my last day [before escaping as Assad's government besieged eastern Aleppo], I was doing one surgery an hour."
"Experts who have never set foot inside Syria say nothing can be done. I welcome them to spend one day volunteering in any Syrian field hospital amputating children's limbs. I encourage them to spend one day with the White Helmet rescue workers digging with bare hands through the rubble for survivors as helicopters drop bombs on them. Then see if they still say nothing can be done."
Samer Attar, surgeon, Northwestern Medicine, Chicago
"In one day, we received 180 wounded civilians, including 72 children and 36 women. Many of them were critically injured."
"We had people dying in the ERs. Someone died because we couldn't get to him in time to save his life. The floor was overflowing with injured and blood."
Mohamed Abu Rajab, nurse, Syrian American Medical Society
The hospital that Samer Atar worked out of -- as a volunteer surgeon with the Syrian American Medical Society and the Aleppo City Medical Council, desperately attempting to save the lives of women and children, their husbands and fathers who were hit by the sharp metal objects flying out of barrel bombs landing on their homes, destroying the homes and changing the lives of the inhabitants forever -- no longer stands. His tour as a volunteer doctor was in July, and most of the hospitals in east Aleppo have been bombed out of serviceable existence since then by Russian and Syrian bomber jets.
|A street near the Great Mosque of Aleppo in 2010, the year before the Syrian civil war began. Photograph: David Forman/Getty Images|
The eastern half of the ancient city that saw so much history within its precincts and outside its gates, none of which threatened to destroy it as the current deadly war of its president on his civilian population is doing, has been recently acquainted with barrel bombs, chlorine-gas bombs, cluster bombs, bunker-busting missiles and napalm. The hospital out of which Dr. Attar worked was destroyed only this past week.
Aleppo was a fairly modern city, divided equally between Shiite and Sunni Syrians; supporters of the Alawite regime and opponents, respectively. The Shiite-Alawite portion of the city remains fairly intact, its residents go about their lives as usual, working, shopping, visiting parks with their families, just as the Sunni part of Aleppo in the eastern half used to do; Syrian Sunnis working to look after their families, sending their children to school, going to the beach. For them life has changed.
For the eastern-dwelling Aleppo residents, life has become elusive. Bombing has struck schools, residences, apartments, businesses, hospitals, and life is a desperate struggle to survive the carnage. When homes are struck, small children die, their parents are wounded, becoming invalids for life, with little left to live for. When one bomb is dropped, another is dropped by a helicopter, and whoever escapes the first drop, is often hit by the second.
|People walk past damaged buildings in the Tariq al-Bab district. Photograph: Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters|
To the residents, this is life or death and for all too many, death wins over life. To the outside world, the disgrace of a regime repeatedly and without cease, attacking its own civilians represents a wholesale atrocity, but there is no collective response that the outrage should provoke to action, only a general atmosphere of hopelessness and no opportunity for intervention. This, despite that the U.S. British and French airforces are present over Syria.
They do nothing to stop the Syrian government's wholesale attacks. And each day that goes by with one succession of brutal attacks after another, the Syrian regime knows that there will be no intervention; it is free, with Russia at its side, to bludgeon its population to satisfy its blood-lust. While the United Nations decries war crimes, nothing results to alleviate the situation while innocent people are being slaughtered and the rebels are being radicalized.
Each time the world witnesses a mass atrocity, in the wake of the Holocaust, when Pol Pot's Cambodia shocked the world, then Rwanda, and Darfur in Sudan, the pledge "never again" is sincerely sworn, but to little avail. The reigning butchers on the world stage who lead governments have their agenda, their tyrannical bullying giving second thought to intervention in fear of the outbreak of another war of world-wide dimensions.
Leaving Syrians to die in a hellfire rain of bombs falling from Syrian jets and helicopters, seconded by Russia.