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Wednesday 19th June 2019

Wounded Syrians walk to Lebanon

20th December 2011

People injured in the Syrian rebellion are being forced to trek cross-country to the Lebanese border, in order to get treatment.


A doctor, who gave the name Mahmoud but declined to provide his real name, said that sometimes he gets a call to treat a stomach ache and finds a Syrian who has been smuggled into the country, with a bullet in his side.

He said that he sees at least one such patient every day, currently, and that it is essential to use coded language, since Syrian intelligence would likely be monitoring telephone calls and text messages.

According to the latest UN statistics, over 5,000 Syrians have died during the nine-month revolt against President Bashhar al-Asad.

Several thousand more people have been wounded, but do not seek help, due to the fact that their wounds would make their political views easy to assess.

Only some people manage to make the Lebanese border, which is risky.

Getting to Lebanon involves sneaking past the Syrian military, stepping through mine fields, and avoiding hypothermia.

People who enter Lebanon also have to avoid the Bekaa Valley, a Shi`ite, pro-Syrian area of the country.

Mahmoud said that he had a safe house set up in the mountains, where his patients wait for him.

A man named Ahmed, who trekked many kilometres across foothills to enter Lebanon, hiding from Syrian forces in underbrush, said that Syrian army and intelligence were already stationed in the country's hospitals.

He said that protesters were too scared to enter hospitals with injuries, and that doing so could mean death.

Hassan, a 24-year old student who fled Homs, where the Syrian uprising has been very strong, said he had no idea who the people helping him were.

He said that he bled for hours and was almost unconscious from the pain of being shot in the leg, but that he was eventually saved.

According to officials in Lebanon, many people have also died while waiting to cross the border.

While the Syrian government has made use of its military to suppress the revolt, some soldiers have deserted the army in order to join the protesters.

Omar, a 20-year old army deserter, said that he has been shot 14 times, and that after the massacre of protesters, he and his unit fled to Homs to begin fighting.

Protesters in the city of Homs squat in abandoned buildings, to protect their families from harrassment.

Hamad, a 30-year-old protester, said that he and dozens of other injured people were hidden in abandoned buildings, where he waited for over a week.

He finally made it to Lebanon, where Mahmoud was able to dress his leg.

In Lebanon, the Red Cross transports people to Tripoli, a northern port town where people are sympathetic to the Syrian uprising.

Mazen, an exiled Syrian doctor has set up secret clinics, since Lebanon's public hospitals will only let injured people stay for four days.


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