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Aleppo Airstrikes Hit Home For A Local Doctor


A doctor named Rami Kalazi has learned to interpret Syria's war by its sounds. He knows the sound of helicopters that drop barrel bombs. He knows the sound of jet planes that fire missiles. Kalazi lives and works in Aleppo, which besieged rebels partly hold. And he talks with us sometimes about his experiences in that city. This week, Dr. Kalazi heard the sounds again.

RAMI KALAZI: We heard the sound of the airplane making an attack. Then the news became to come.

INSKEEP: News that the airplane had blasted a hospital. Dozens of people were injured or killed. It was a hospital for women and children. It was just a few miles from the hospital where Dr. Kalazi himself has been working, and he knew one of the dead.

KALAZI: One of the killed medical personnel was my friend. He's a pediatrician.

INSKEEP: What was his name?

KALAZI: Waseem Maaz.

INSKEEP: Waseem Maaz.

KALAZI: Exactly.

INSKEEP: OK. Tell me a little bit about your friend. Who was he?

KALAZI: He was one of the most amazing pediatricians. We have only three pediatricians in the city. He is one of them - or he was. He was kind. And he was working hard in two pediatric hospitals. He was a young man, the same age of mine, about 30 years.

INSKEEP: Was he like you also in that you had an opportunity to live elsewhere, in fact did stay elsewhere for a while? Could he have been elsewhere?

KALAZI: Yes, every one of our physicians actually have the chance to leave Syria, but we decided to stay.

INSKEEP: What has happened to the patients who were in that hospital, those who survived?

KALAZI: They were evacuated actually to other hospitals. Some of them have been received by ours.

INSKEEP: And what kinds of injuries have you seen from the people who've been received by your hospital there?

KALAZI: There is two kinds of injured people. There was patients who were being treated and they were evacuated, and the newly-injured people from the medical personnel and from the civilians. Also, we have two attempts to attack our hospital, but thank God with no injuries.

INSKEEP: When you say there was an attack on your hospital, how near did the explosives land?

KALAZI: Less than 100 meters.

INSKEEP: Now, as far as the attack on hospital that was destroyed, you said you heard the aircraft. You heard the explosion. We've talked before, and you're able to tell often when you believe it's a barrel bomb, starting with the fact that they get shoved out of helicopters generally speaking. Was this a barrel bomb?

KALAZI: No, it was an airstrike from an airplane. There were two rockets by witnesses. But before this airstrike, there were two barrel bombs on a school near to this hospital. And the other was on the hospital by an airplane.

INSKEEP: Have these attacks been accompanied by any movement on the ground? Are there ground forces advancing in your direction, for example?

KALAZI: Not at all. We know that the only purpose of these attacks are killing civilians.

INSKEEP: So what are you able to do for the survivors from the destroyed hospital who've been brought to your hospital?

KALAZI: We try to treat them. Some of them have many injuries - in the abdomen, in the chest and in the head.

INSKEEP: Do you plan to continue to stay?

KALAZI: Indeed, yes.

INSKEEP: Dr. Rami Kalazi, in Aleppo, Syria. Thank you very much, sir.

KALAZI: Thanks a lot. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.