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Wounded Syrians Treated at Secret Clinic in Lebanon

  • Henry Ridgwell

Syrians injured in the crackdown on anti-government protests are crossing into Lebanon to seek treatment. They can’t get treatment in Syria because they say hospitals there are often raided by security forces looking for protesters. One secret clinic in the Lebanese city of Tripoli has patients of all ages with horrific injuries from the fighting.

Amran, 6, is one of the youngest patients in this hospital. He has difficulty walking. When he shows his leg, it’s easy to see why. A chunk is missing from his shin. The hole is surrounded by red scar tissue.

"I’m here because they shot me,” Amran said. He was fleeing Syria with his mother when security forces opened fire. His mother survived unscathed. Amran will be disabled for life.

There are many other injured Syrian children at this private Tripoli clinic. The doctors asked us not to identify its whereabouts.

Patients hide their faces. Many are wounded anti-government protesters. They say if they were identified, their families in Syria would be tortured and killed.

With his laptop permanently connected to Facebook, Skype and YouTube, one army defector is keeping up his fight from his hospital bed via the Internet - distributing videos from inside Syria.

He gave us footage of a protest and funeral in Homs. With pride, he says he is the man in white on the shoulders of a friend - in Arabic, the ‘Kashoosh,’ the one who leads the chanting.

“I’m lucky to have a strong voice, and I’m also musical,” he said. “I used to put all my heart into it, and I used to be the one who used to chant, ‘The people want to downfall of the regime, the people want the regime to go.’''

His luck ran out four months ago - he was shot at a protest. The man on the bed next to him saved his life and took him on the highly dangerous route to Lebanon.

“Yes, this is a dangerous thing to do,” he said. “When we joined these protests we said we would either survive or die, that was our motto. I was part of Assad’s army. I defected because of what it did. This army is cruel, they go into people’s homes, it doesn’t matter if it is a child or an old person, the army would kill them.”

In the neighboring room, more wounded protesters. One shows us the bone fragments removed from his leg after he was shot.

“This is not sectarian. It’s Assad himself who wants there to be a civil war. He would use that against us,” said the protester. “He’s used everything else - warplanes, artillery. He’s done horrific things. You should see Baba Amr in Homs where I come from, you would cry if you saw how people are surviving.”

The patients here say they can’t get treatment in Syria because security forces regularly raid hospitals to arrest protesters. They say they are lucky to get treatment in Lebanon.

For the children in this clinic, luck and fortune have been brutally stolen away, by a conflict that does not discriminate by age.