Plea to get wounded out of besieged border town

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At least 300 seriously wounded residents of the besieged town of Qusair, near Syria’s border with Lebanon, need to be evacuated for medical treatment, a doctor in the town has said.

Kasem Alzein, who co-ordinates treatment in several makeshift hospitals in Qusair, said the wounded were 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 rebels fighting to topple president Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Speaking from Qusair via Skype, Dr 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 were running out and doctors urgently needed oxygen to keep the 300 people – mostly women, children and elderly – alive.

“The humanitarian and medical conditions are terrible,” he said, adding no medical supplies had reached the town since the government launched an offensive on Qusair on 19 May.

“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.”

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

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