Metro Morning

Aleppo now a 'city of innocent blood' says Syrian-Canadian doctor

A Syrian-Canadian doctor managing a medical team on the ground in Aleppo says he fears for the lives of his colleagues as the Syrian government takes over control of the city.

Dr. Anas Al-Kassem, physician behind medical aid effort in Aleppo, says city is unrecognizable

A man carries an injured child after airstrikes in Aleppo in September. The Syrian-government, backed by Russia, has taken control over the city from the rebels. (Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters)

A Syrian-Canadian doctor managing a medical team on the ground in Aleppo says he fears for the lives of his colleagues as the Syrian government takes over control of the city.

Dr. Anas Al-Kassem, a Syrian-Canadian who was born in that country but now works as a surgeon in Simcoe, Ont., has been trying to get his doctors and nurses out of the war-torn city, with no success.

"They're facing death in the last stages of this war," said Al-Kassem, who chairs the Union of Syrian Medical Relief.

"We told them you have to leave, we know what's going to happen to you," he said in an interview Tuesday on Metro Morning.

"The regime is not going to leave anything in that city."

Dr. Anas Al Kassem says he's "deeply depressed" hearing stories of the government's takeover of Aleppo. (CBC)

Al-Kassem said the team of 30 doctors and 70 nurses were given the chance to leave Syria about six months ago, but they felt they needed to stay to help.

Since then, Al-Kassem has been appealing to anyone who can establish a way out for the team.

"We've had some negotiations with Russia, with the UN on their behalf, everything has failed."

A city destroyed

Al-Kassem travelled to Aleppo frequently to support the medical aid efforts in Syria over the past five years. He says he can't recognize the city anymore.

"Everything is rubble," he said. "It's a city of ghosts, a city of innocent blood."

Smoke and flames rise on Sunday after airstrikes on rebel-controlled besieged area of Aleppo, as seen from a government-held side in Syria. (Omar Sanadiki/Reuters)

The doctor is still in touch with his team on the ground in the city, and he says the stories they are relaying are heartbreaking.

"I'm just hearing sad stories of the regime taking the city from neighbourhood to neighbourhood and killing, shelling and firing on women in children."

"I'm deeply depressed," he said. "I was born in Syria and I know what this regime can do."

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