Recovering Bodies in the Wreckage of a War Without Boundaries

By Robert King / Polaris

Today the dazed and grieving medical staff of Aleppo’s Dar al-Shifa Hospital, which just weeks ago I documented for VICE’s Ground Zero series, wandered around their razed makeshift medical facility, searching the rubble for victims of yesterday’s rocket attack launched by one of Assad’s fighter jets.

While some news reports claim that the destroyed building was adjacent to the hospital, they are incorrect. I have eaten lunch in that building several times. It housed the hospital’s administrative offices and doubled as its instrument-sanitization facility. Regardless, Dar al-Shifa’s operating facilities were also destroyed. It’s all gone, and anyone who is reporting that it is a lie or propaganda doesn’t know anything worthwhile. As with many times during my reporting in Syria, I was the only reporter on the scene who wasn’t also an activist.

Family members of the deceased stood in the street, waiting in agony for their love ones to be recovered. The exact death toll has yet to be confirmed, but today’s estimates put it at 40 and climbing.

Bulldozers worked through the night to move the debris so volunteers could extract the dead. Among the fallen were Dr. Abu Faisal, a newly married nurse Mrs. Bushra, the hospital’s information manager, and two of their security guards. Five additional nurses were wounded in the attack.

Earlier today I interviewed Dr. Osman, the head doctor of the now destroyed hospital, while he was surveying the damage. “Dar al-Shifa Hospital is now finished but in the future we will rebuild,” he said. “[Our] message was never the building itself, the message of Dar al-Shifa is [its] people and the doctors, and we will continue to save lives and relieve pain.”

Despite the obstacle Dr. Osman said that he expects to have a working hospital up in running in 48 hours. Until then many civilians in Aleppo are on their own in a war without any moral boundaries whatsoever.

Watch video of Robert’s experience surviving the attack on Dar al-Shifa Hospital and the aftermath early next week in a new episode of our YouTube series Ground Zero: Syria. And continue to read our Syria Issue, which will continue to rollout throughout the month of November.

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