Medical Help Scarce in Besieged Syrian City

10/20/2014
Map of Syria

SURUC, Turkey—A doctor inside the besieged Syrian city of Kobani described desperate conditions on the ground, with hospitals being targeted by Islamic State militants and an acute lack of medical workers and supplies.

Walat Omar, one of only a handful of doctors who have stayed in Kobani, said many civilians—mostly elderly—remain in the predominantly Kurdish city, which has been under a monthlong siege by the extremist group.

Islamic State fighters are targeting the main hospitals and clinics, and airstrikes also have hit medical centers, medical workers and residents in Kobani said.

One of the city’s three hospitals was destroyed by an Islamic State suicide truck bomb on Monday before its patients could be evacuated, Dr. Omar, a 28-year-old surgeon, said late Wednesday. The other two main hospitals have been destroyed or damaged by clashes and U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, the medical workers and residents said.

One of these facilities, the National Hospital, was in a neighborhood under Kurdish control. Kurdish fighters evacuated the hospital and removed its equipment last week before Islamic State took over the area. Islamic State fighters used the hospital as a headquarters until U.S.-led coalition airstrikes hit and demolished it several days ago.

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