Dr. Hasan Al-A’raj was a good man who truly cared about the well-being of Syrian people.
He could have left Syria altogether like thousands of other health care professionals have done in the past five years.
And who would have blamed him?
Certainly not his wife or his five young children.
It’s not that he couldn’t have chosen to work elsewhere either. He was a cardiologist and a member of the Syrian American Medical Society aka SAMS.
But instead of playing it safe, he chose to remain in Syria as the Health Director and SAMS Coordinator of Hama.
He was also not naïve about the danger he faced.
Earlier this year Dr. Hasan was asked by SAMS what he wanted most from the international community. He said; “The way that people are looking at the conflict is from a political perspective, not from the humanitarian side. The thing I would ask for right now is that the world acts in order to protect patients, like with underground hospitals. We need protection.”
But even working in an underground hospital like Kafr Zita, which had been built into the side of a mountain, was not enough to protect a superhero like Dr. Hasan from the criminal Assad regime and its allies.
He died Wednesday morning when a missile fired from a warplane hit his vehicle as he was leaving Kafr Zita cave hospital.
There is no doubt that this was a deliberate action by the Assad regime and its allies, for our hero doctor has now joined more than 750 doctors who were targeted and killed by the regime since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution in 2011.
Not only has the United Nations failed miserably in protecting medical facilities and personnel in Syria, they have consistently catered to the Assad regime in their efforts to be “impartial”.
The latest example of their “impartiality” was seen just nine days before the murder of Dr. Hasan when the World Health Organization (WHO) --- a specialized agency of the United Nations that is supposedly concerned with international public health --- delivered the first batch of ten brand new ambulances to the Assad regime at the port of Lattakia.
The presentation was made by Elizabeth Hoff, WHO’s resident representative in Syria, to the regime’s health minister, Nizar Yazigi.
According to SANA, Hoff and Yazigi are working together in “continuous efforts to meet the Syrian citizens’ health needs and provide health facilities and centers with necessary medical equipment, medicine and ambulances.”
Could it be possible that WHO is delivering new ambulances to the regime because they know very well that if they delivered them to the Syrians in the liberated areas who truly need them, they would only end up being destroyed by the regime the same way countless others have been in the past five years?
It is no secret that the regime has deliberately targeted every hospital, clinic, doctor, health care worker, paramedic and ambulance they could find.
The situation has been so bad that a number of humanitarian organizations who donated desperately needed ambulances requested they be built without any identifying characteristics, especially ones that would identify them as ambulances from the air.
In addition, the regime consistently removes pharmaceuticals and other medical supplies from humanitarian aid deliveries to besieged areas which makes it pretty obvious that when Elizabeth Hoff says she is committed to efforts to “meet the Syrian citizens’ health needs and provide health facilities and centers with necessary medical equipment, medicine and ambulances” she doesn’t mean all of Syria’s citizens --- and she surely did not mean Dr. Hasan Al-A’Raj, the only remaining cardiologist in the Hama Governorate.
WHO’s Constitution states that its objective "is the attainment by all people of the highest possible level of health".
For five years those who have been committed to simply saving lives and treating the effects of the systematic targeting and destruction of civilian homes and infrastructure in Syria have been doing the best that they can to keep medical services available to those Syrians that Assad has chosen to render invisible to the rest of the world --- as he supplies the media with stories of fighting “terrorists” like Dr. Hasan Al-A’Raj.
We have come to expect nothing better from the man who would do anything to hold onto his daddy’s chair.
But for the United Nations’ World Health Organization to render those who suffer terribly as a result of his self-serving agenda invisible as well is unforgivable.
Humanitarians all over the world have donated money to supply medical equipment and ambulances to those who desperately need them in Syria --- and the regime continues to destroy them as fast as they can.
And WHO’s response to the humanitarian crisis that has been created by the Assad regime is to reward them with a fleet of shiny new ambulances.
Assad jets have been heavily pounding opposition-held areas of Syria’s second city Aleppo for a week, which was left out of a deal to ’freeze’ fighting despite international outrage over renewed violence.
Assad bombardment in Aleppo over the past week killed more than 230 civilians and pushed a landmark February 27 ceasefire to the verge of collapse.
On Friday Assad barrel bombs smashed into residential neighborhoods as rescue workers scrambled to cope with the casualties.
Near the opposition-held neighborhood of Ferdos district, the civil defence, known as the White Helmets, pulled bloodied bodies caked in dust from a building that had been hit.
"The earth is shaking beneath our feet," one resident of the densely populated Bestan al-Qasr area told AFP.
An air raid also hit a local clinic in opposition-held al-Marja neighborhood, wounding several people, including a nurse, the White Helmets said.
Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reported many clinics were "totally destroyed.
"All these atrocities are taking place, while the world is standing by," Abo Omar, one of the residents in al-Marja said.
We are doctors of Aleppo at the frontline of the war raging there. We were at least skeptical about the cessation of hostilities negotiated in February. Yet we found some reduction in attacks against our hospitals, when the truce took effect. We dared to hope . This week, we saw our worst fears in the most horrific circumstances. Our city is set ablaze.
On Wednesday, April 27, Syrian or Russian warplanes bombed the Al-Quds hospital in the eastern part of Aleppo. The attack killed over 50 people and injured more than 60 others. Our friends at the White Helmets [Syrian humanitarian organization] continue to retrieve bodies buried under the rubble. Among those killed in the attack was our friend and colleague, Dr. Wassim Muhammad Maaz. He was the last pediatrician in Aleppo.
We will always remember the extreme kindness and courage of Dr Maaz, whose devotion to the service of the youngest victims of the war was unparalleled. This attack deprives east of Aleppo of one of the best pediatricians remained in Syria. This is another bloody reminder that those who attack Aleppo have no respect for the sanctity of life and for humanity.
Dr. Mohammed Ahmad, another friend of ours and one of ten dentists remaining in eastern Aleppo, was also killed in the air raid. His name is added to that of Dr Maaz, and at least 730 of our colleagues who were killed in the country over the past five years. Our heroic fellow at the White Helmets have also suffered heavy losses and have risked their lives in order to save others. Just one day before Dr Ahmad and Dr Maaz were killed, the White Helmets training center of Al-Alareb was hit by multiple ground-to-ground missiles, killing five of their volunteers: Ahmad Abdullah, Khaled Bashar, Ahmad Mahmoud, Hamda Haj Ibrahim and Ismail Hussain.
Soon there will no Aleppo medical staff. Who then will save the lives of civilians? Who then will lavish their necessary care? This week, in just two days, nearly four people were killed every hour of the day, and more than fifty injured during the same time. Our hospitals are at breaking point. The cessation of hostilities has failed and we feel the effects deep within ourselves.
In February, Russia and the United States announced their commitment to develop and make lasting cessation of hostilities. Today, they are not living up to their commitments and it is women, children and the elderly Aleppo who pay full price for their failure. If the truce is not sustained, nothing will prevent the recurrence of massacres such as the attack on the Al-Quds hospital, and prevent a total Aleppo siege. In this case, Aleppo might know a fate similar to that of Srebrenica.
Russia said it would be sincere about peace in Syria. It must now honor its obligations in ensuring the end of airstrikes against Aleppo, as well as the establishment of a truce that is respected by all parties. The priority is that Russia and the international community urgently exercise their influence to end the assault against Aleppo. This is a necessary first step. For health professionals, every day is a struggle to get the equipment and medicines that we desperately need to heal the wounded and come to the aid of the dying. The Castello road, the last entry road of humanitarian aid to eastern Aleppo, is threatened for months and now hangs by a thread. The United States also should use its influence to ensure that this crucial supply route is no longer threatened.
As leaders of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), the presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama are in charge of safeguarding civilians in Syria. They have the power and responsibility of protection. We hope and pray that they use it for the good of Syria, Aleppo, our patients and our own.
Signed by: Dr Hatem, director of the pediatric hospital of Aleppo; Dr Abu Altiem, pediatric hospital in Aleppo; Dr Yahya, pediatric hospital in Aleppo; Dr Abu Albrae, pediatric hospital in Aleppo; Dr Khaled, nephrologist at Al Quds hospital in Aleppo; Dr Salah Safadi, Association of independent doctors.
The Hebraic Radio disclosed that the Lebanese militia of Hezbollah sent messages of assurance to Israel through mediators telling the Israelis that Hezbollah does not have the intent to open a confrontation with Israel, Arabi 21 reported.
Military sources told the Hebraic Radio that these messages came as a result of the high price which Hezbollah terrorists pay in fighting in Syria.
The sources added the dramatic increase in the numbers of the killed among the ranks of Hezbollah made them work additional hours to express condolences for the killed families.