• Reuters


Syria’s besieged enclave of eastern Aleppo has no anesthetists and only six intensive care beds after two hospitals were disabled by airstrikes overnight, a doctor from the Syrian American Medical Society said on Wednesday.

Russian or Syrian warplanes knocked a major Aleppo hospital out of service on Wednesday, hospital workers said, and ground forces intensified their assault on the city’s besieged rebel sector, in a battle that has become a potentially decisive turning point in the civil war.

Shelling damaged at least one other hospital and a bakery, killing six residents lining up for bread under a siege that has trapped 250,000 people with food running out.

“We lost seven ICU beds with their ventilators. Now in eastern Aleppo there are only six ICU beds,” the doctor, Abd Arrahman Alomar, told Reuters in Geneva during a trip to meet United Nations human rights and humanitarian officials.

The damaged M2 hospital might be functioning again within days but Alomar said he didn’t know how long it would take to fix the M10 hospital, the biggest trauma hospital in eastern Aleppo.

The remaining intensive care unit beds are at the Al Quds and M1 hospitals.

The main priority was treating injuries from the war, including burns from incendiary and “bunker-buster” bombs, and eastern Aleppo’s 30 doctors were having to focus on life-saving and life-sustaining care only.

“The mental health and psycho-social support is not considered at all because this is not a priority,” he said. “We have now more than 200 cases that need prompt evacuation.”

There are no ventilators for newborns nor nurses qualified to look after them, and technicians are standing in as anesthestists, he said, adding that eastern Aleppo was being served by just one gynecologist and two paediatricians.

Antibiotics, orthopedic supplies and drugs for treating chronic diseases are running low and other medicines have run out, Alomar said.

“If it continues, surgeons will not be able to do operations,” Alomar said. “There is also a dangerous shortage of fuel, only enough to operate these hospitals for 24 or 25 days.”

The only bloodbank, which was providing 50 blood bags daily a few weeks ago, is now facing demand for 300 a day, he said.

But Alomar said people inside the siege were coping.

“I can summarize the feelings of people inside with one word: resilience,” he said.

“Nobody likes the war. … But also nobody likes to lose his freedom. Those people inside the city had the opportunity before to leave the city and they refused. … They decided to stay inside their city,” he said.

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