Syrian border pounded by warplanes, 300 wounded
BEIRUT: At least 300 seriously wounded residents of an embattled Syrian town near the border with Lebanon need to be evacuated for medical treatment, a doctor told The Associated Press yesterday, as fighting in Qusayr raged for the third straight week.
Al Jazeera reported that government warplanes did much of the destruction.
Kasem Alzein, who coordinates treatment in several makeshift hospitals in Qusayr, said the wounded are being treated in private homes after the town’s main hospital was destroyed during fighting between the Syrian army — backed by Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas — and opposition fighters battling to topple President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Speaking to the AP from Qusayr via Skype, Alzein pleaded for help, saying evacuation efforts by local medical teams had failed after a convoy was attacked last week and 13 of the wounded were killed. He said medical supplies are running out and doctors 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 has launched an offensive on Qusayr May 19. “We are treating people in homes in an unsterilized environment. We tried to evacuate the wounded and we can’t. No one is helping us.” Alzein said 50 abandoned homes around Qusayr have been turned into makeshift hospitals. Four of the homes have been converted into operating theaters. Elzein said the doctors had stocked up on medical supplies, but they are running out of antibiotics, bandages and anesthetics, he said, adding that oxygen supplies are already exhausted.
A Hezbollah man and several fighters were killed in day’s clashes, which happened in a remote area near the Syrian border, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Elsewhere in Lebanon, gunmen fired on a prominent pro-Hezbollah Sunni cleric in the port city of Sidon yesterday but failed to hit him, security officials said. The attack on Sheik Maher Hammoud increased fears that the Syrian conflict could re-ignite the country’s explosive sectarian mix that mirrors the one in Syria. Lebanon’s 15-year civil war ended in 1990.