Special Reports  ::   The Massacre of Khalid Bin AlWalid for Maternity and Children Hospital


A Special Report on the Massacre of Khalid Bin AlWalid for Maternity and Children Hospital

Waer Neighborhood – Homs
November 18, 2013

Violation Documentation Center in Syria

*Waer Neighborhood, the devastation caused by a surface-to-surface missile launched by the regime forces in July 2013.

*The photo was taken by the activist Muhammad Hamid.

 

Introduction:

The revolutionist areas of Homs- the third largest governorate in Syria following Damascus and Aleppo- have been besieged for over a year and have been massively destructed as a result of the clashes between the regime forces and the Free Syrian Army. For several months, those areas and neighborhoods have also been under a heavy systematic shelling, which led to their nearly complete destruction and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of their citizens either to other areas and governorates or to the refugee camps in the neighboring countries.

 

Waer Neighborhood:

Waer neighborhood, known as Homs AlJadeeda, is at the west of Homs. Although there are no clear-cut boundaries, the neighborhood is divided into two parts: Waer AlJadeed (the New Waer) and Waer AlQadeem (the Old Waer). The citizens of the later are mostly Bedouins like Fawaera Tribe and Ekedat Tribe and others. Waer is the largest neighborhoods of Homs where several high buildings have been recently constructed, each of which contains 48 apartments. It has also the higher population as more than 400,000 citizens have been displaced to it from the completely destructed liberated areas. Nowadays, more than half a million citizens live there, most of whom are Sunnis. The neighborhood has been-according to activists- besieged for more than two months, specifically after the explosion that happened near the regime's Mazra'a checkpoint and now the regime forces only allow the access of very few food supplies, and only university students, employees and elderly people are allowed to get out and come back to Waer while the rest of the citizens are absolutely prohibited to do so. As for the holidays, even the afore mentioned groups are prevented from going out or coming back to the neighborhood.

 

About the Hospital:

AlWalid Hospital is the only hospital that provides health services for the people in Waer neighborhood. Basically, it is a maternity and children hospital, and it is called "Khalid Bin Walid Maternity and Children Hospital", yet practically it is not equipped to receive critical cases outside the specialties of the hospital such as bombardment casualties, amputations, heart surgeries and others. However, it has received such cases of civilians only, not of the Free Syrian Army. The three-story hospital consists of more than a hundred rooms, more than 40 beds and more than 35 employees (doctors, nurses and paramedics). Anyhow, there is only one general surgeon who had –unfortunately- not been available when the hospital was targeted by the regime forces. AlWalid Hospital is about 100m away from "Homs Central Hospital" which is under construction, and more than 500m from "AlBir Hospital" that has been under the control of the regime forces since 6-4-2012 and that is against Homs AlJadeeda Fire Station. AlWalid Hospital has many sections:

 

1-Incubators section

2-Childbirth section that includes the delivery section.

3-Dialysis section to which the regime forces- that control AlBir Hospital- have usually been sending ambulances to take materials and equipment used in dialysis. Moreover, there has been a storeroom in which all the equipment related to dialysis was kept.

4-Operations section and a room for general surgeries.

5-Relieving section.

6-X-Ray section.

7-Administrative section, a section that contains the administrative offices of those in charge of the hospital.

 

First: Targeting AlWalid Hospital:

On 18 Sep 2013, at 09:35 pm, a highly destructive surface-to-surface missile fell on the hospital causing huge devastation, especially to the Relieving section which was completely destroyed. The missile fell between the Relieving section and an oxygen tank which was- fortunately- empty and that helped in reducing the number of the casualties and saved the neighbourhood a disaster. Thirty minutes before the falling of the missile, the regime forces had showered the surroundings of the hospital with a barrage of mortar missiles, many of which had fallen on 'Abu Khater' Villa and 'Mirsy' St whose name has been changed upon the beginning of the revolution to the name of the martyr; AbdulRahman al-Attasi.
VDC in Syria contacted, on 19-11-2013, many of the locals and the field activists in the area to see into the incident.

 

The First Testimony:

Abu Omar, an activist and a member of "Syria Mubasher" Net, stated:

"The huge destruction caused by the missile suggests that it was launched from The Air Force Branch in front of the Agriculture Institute in Homs. Usually all missiles launched from there cause such huge destruction. The fact that the missile passed above the 'Old Waer' before hitting the hospital confirmed that it was launched from this branch."

 

Abu Omar adds:

"I was in 'Old Waer' at 09:35 when we heard the missile above us and the flame of the missile was so clear and it roared just like jet plane. Few seconds later, it fell on the hospital causing a huge bang. We immediately rushed to the place where we saw the mass destruction. People rushed to relieve casualties from under the debris. I saw about 20 casualties, six of whom were females. ّ They all were relieved to field hospitals and other medical points. At first, 8 martyrs were counted, all of whom were of the medical staff (the ambulance cadre) - according to those who were relieving. The casualties suffered different degrees of injuries, mostly on the body, except for two cases on the head."

*Many sources, including three testimonies of eyewitnesses, stated that the missile was launched from The Air Force Branch, which was turned into a military barrack from which all the nearby areas are being shelled.

 

The Second Testimony:

Koky al-Homsia, a student who lives near the hospital stated:

"'Old Waer' is in front of the Martial Academy in Homs, adjoining the New Waer which was divided into 9 sections. On 18 Nov 2013 around 08:45 pm, they started shelling us with mortars until 09:30 when we heard a huge bang. We rushed to the place where we heard people screaming "it's the hospital, it's the hospital ". We knew then that the missile had targeted the only hospital in the area. When we approached and as there was no electricity, we saw nothing but smoke, rubbles and destruction. Apparently, the missile had hit the Relieving section; we saw casualties who were patients in the hospitals. Immediately, one of the casualties was recognized; she was the nurse Um Sulaiman, a wife of a martyr and a mother of five children. We also saw a young nurse called Abeer Issa, 20 years old in addition to martyrs who were recognized later like Muhammad Khalaf Sweid, Samer Ismael, Omar AlOmar.and others."

 

Second: Shooting During Relieving:

AlWalid Hospital is about 500 m from AlBir hospital which is under the regime's dominance, and a couple of buildings from Homs Central Hospital which is under construction. However, AlWalid Hospital is exposed to the regime snipers who are localized on the roofs of both the above mentioned hospitals.

The activist Abu Basssam, 25 years old, a correspondent at Cham News Net, stated:

"I heard a huge bang at 09:30; I rushed to my balcony to see an enormous light and the fragments were flying right next to my building which is only couple hundreds of meters from the targeted hospital. I entered my house and waited for awhile before I took my camera and went to the place. When we entered the place from the garden side, I couldn't videotape anything due to the atrocity of the scene; carnage, mixed smells of blood and medicine were all over the place. In one of the rooms, we found six bodies of the medical cadre as there were pieces of medical clothes. Moreover, one of the bodies of the nurses was still in shape. As there was no electricity since 12 days, we were using mobile lights and some other searchlights. Regime forces, also, prevented the access of any fuels since 8 months. While we were there, someone entered looking for a woman and her child who had just entered the relieving room. I believe they turned into carnage."

He continues that when they tried to relieve the casualties from the other side of the hospital, they were shot at by the snipers on the roof of Homs CentraloHHsk Hospital. They targeted anyone trying to evacuate or relieve the injured. They tried, then, to enter the hospital from the southern gate. Regimes forces, however, opened fire from a 12.5 machine gun and injured one of them. Abu Bassam confirmed that there were more than 35 casualties, most of whom were women and children visiting their patients. One of the casualties has lost his arm during the explosion which did not save the buildings nearby; there were many casualties in these buildings too.

Abu Bassam Adds regrettably:

One of the torn up female nurses was identified by her friend who could recognize her feet and shoes. 60 rooms were partially destroyed. Operations and Relieving sections, however, were completely destroyed; practically, the Hospital is out of service now.

 

Third: Intentional Targeting to the Hospital:

Al-Waer is one of the biggest neighborhoods in Homs, and with the beginning of the revolution and due to the random shelling on the other neighborhoods; it has become the refuge for tens of thousands of displaced civilians. Some parts of it still under the regimes domination or under the supervision of the army snipers despite the fact that there are no Free Army members in these parts. The fact that al-Walid Hospital is the only remaining hospital there, the administration of the hospital has always tried to keep it out of the constant fighting, so the hospital has not received any armed person regardless of the party or the faction. Even the casualties of the Free Army were not allowed to enter the hospital; they were taken to medical points instead. The hospital received only usual civilian casualties or casualties of the shelling on the district. All those I interviewed confirmed that all the buildings around the hospital are totally civilian and there was no barrier or checkpoint for the Free Army.

In regard to this issue, Muhammad Hamid, an activist and a member of Syria Mubasher News Net, says:

"All the buildings around the Hospital are for civilians. The hospital is specialized with some specific cases and cannot deal with critical ones as there is only one general surgeon (he wasn't in the hospital during the incident) and the medical staff and supplies are short. Apparently, the fact that the oxygen tank was empty saved the district a horrible catastrophe and lessened the number of martyrs which reach, according to the final numeration, 12 martyrs (8 nurses and 4 civilians). Among the casualties, there were more than 10 children and 15 women. There is no military presence in the area and the regime forces knew that the nearest Free Army location is 500 m away from the hospital, yet they targeted it intentionally."

Fourth: A list of the martyrs names and videos:

First- The Martyrs:

1-The nurse Abeer Issa, 20 years old.

2-The nurse Um Sulaiman, a wife of a martyr and a mother of five children.

3-The nurse Nour Sharafly.

4-The nurse AbdulGhaffar Sharaf Eddin.

5-The nurse Muhammad Khalaf Sweid, Abu Jaafar.

6-The nurse Samer Ismael, Abu Aghyad.
7-The nurse Omar AlOmar.

8-The nurse Omar Elewi, Abu Hasan.

9+10+11+12- four unidentified martyrs including a woman and her child.

Second- Some of the videos that have been photographed by the activists of the neighborhood:

1-A video filmed on 19-11-2013 exclusively for VDC in Syria showing the severe destruction caused to the hospital, and the destroyed oxygen tank. The video also shows the destruction caused to the nearby buildings, filmed by Muhammad Hamid.

2- Another video filmed exclusively for VDC in Syria showing the incubators of premature babies that have become completely out of service.
Filmed by Muhammad Hamid

3- Another video showing the mass destruction inside the hospital:

4- A video showing the burial of the martyrs of Waer massacre:



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