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Tuesday 24 October 2017

300 injured 'trapped' in Syria town

Hadi Abdullah in the town of Qusair, near the Lebanon border (AP/Qusair Lens)
Hadi Abdullah in the town of Qusair, near the Lebanon border (AP/Qusair Lens)

A doctor in an embattled Syrian town near the border with Lebanon says 300 seriously injured residents need to be evacuated for medical treatment.

Kasem Alzein, who coordinates treatment in several makeshift hospitals in the town of Qusair, said the wounded are being treated in private homes.

He said the town's main hospital was destroyed during nearly three weeks of fighting between the Hezbollah-backed Syrian army and rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad's regime.

Dr Alzein pleaded for help, saying previous evacuation efforts by local medical teams had failed after a convoy was attacked last week, killing 13 of the injured.

The doctor said medical supplies are running out and medics treating the wounded most urgently need oxygen to keep the 300 people - mostly women, children and elderly - alive.

"The humanitarian and medical conditions are terrible," Alzein said, adding that no medical supplies have reached the town since the government launched an offensive on Qusair on May 19. "We are treating people in homes in an unsterilised environment. We tried to evacuate the wounded and we can't. No one is helping us."

Alzein said 50 abandoned homes around Qusair have been turned into makeshift hospitals. Four of the homes have been converted into operating theatres. He said the doctors had stocked up on medical supplies but are running out of antibiotics, bandages and anaesthetics, adding that oxygen supplies are already exhausted.

Appeals by the United Nations and other aid organisations to allow humanitarian workers to enter Qusair have gone unheeded by authorities in Damascus as fighting drags on and neither side has been able to deliver a decisive blow.

Syrian regime troops and fighters from Hezbollah have gained ground, but rebels have been able to defend some positions and appear to be dug in the north and west of the town.

On Sunday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon called Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem to express concern over the situation in Qusair, according to Syria's state-run news agency SANA. But al-Moallem told the UN chief that the Red Cross and other aid agencies will only be able to enter Qusair "after the end of military operations there", SANA said.

Press Association

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