February 16th, 2012
06:59 AM ET

Inside Syria: Wounds ooze, doctors cry in Syrian city

Editor's Note: CNN correspondent Arwa Damon is reporting from Baba Amr, a neighborhood that has become a symbol of the uprising in Syria, where she found impoverished and shaken residents who are facing shortages of supplies and daily attacks, yet they stand firm in their opposition to the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Damon is one of a few reporters in Syria, where the government has been placing restrictions on international journalists and refusing many of them entry at all. Below is an edited account of what Damon and her team are seeing and hearing from activists in Homs as attacks continue:

Shelling had struck a medical clinic at least three times, shattering the windows. Inside, critically wounded patients were lying in hospital beds tended to by two doctors - an internist and a dentist.

The doctors said they had neither the equipment nor the expertise to help many of their patients. For example, one man would require that his leg be amputated if he were not transferred to a hospital within a day, a doctor said. The stench from the man's wound underscored the seriousness of his condition. The patient said the constant bombardment and the resulting carnage had stripped life of its meaning for him. As the man spoke, tears coursed down the doctor's cheeks.

A 30-year-old man whose brain had been pierced by shrapnel lay on the brink of death. The doctors had been able only to sew shut the wound and give him anti-clotting drugs.

Many of those who survive are taken to private homes nearby so that they can recover. Those trips can themselves be perilous, as snipers have taken up positions on rooftops in the neighborhood.

The two medical professionals are aided by 20 volunteers, each of whom has undergone 15 days of training. One of those volunteers, a young man who himself became a casualty in the shelling, died Wednesday.

"How can the world stay silent?" asked a nurse who had tried to comfort him. "They're human beings in front of us. These are not people who are made of stone."

One woman said she and her sister were wounded by shrapnel as they walked in the streets, where children could be seen on Wednesday. But many women and children have holed up in basements.

Still, the opposition has claimed victories too. Activists take pride in posting videos onto YouTube showing the rest of the world the conditions they are enduring. Networks of activists have set up live video streams to gain international support and have arranged for medical supplies and basic foodstuffs to be brought into the stricken neighborhood.

And activists say the number of army defectors has grown, boosting the ranks of the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) and strengthening their already fierce determination.

Still, many say they realize that the fighting could represent just the beginning of what could turn out to be a long and bloody effort to rid the nation of al-Assad. The FSA lacks the heavy weaponry that could make a dent in the government forces.

Activists held out hope for international aid, with one saying that it would likely result in a bloody conflict, but one that might end quickly. Absent such help, he predicted, fighting would take much longer and could be much bloodier.

Residents of Baba Amr were among the first in the nation to take to the streets calling for the downfall of al-Assad's regime. It has borne the weight of the crackdown in the area. FSA forces have kept government forces on the outskirts of the neighborhood, from where they have been shelling residential areas incessantly, residents said. Some predicted that, once many of the buildings are leveled, al-Assad forces will attempt to enter the neighborhood in a final, fatal sweep.

But many activists in Baba Amr predicted that if they can hold on to this symbol of the uprising, they will succeed in toppling al-Assad.

Such intimate views of life here are rare because the government has limited access to much of the country by international journalists, who have had to piece together stories from the mosaic of information gleaned from videos posted online, from telephone conversations and e-mail traffic.

More detailed coverage of what's happening on the ground inside Syria:

U.N. to take up resolution condemning Syria crackdown

Activists say trying to flee from homes under attack is virtually a suicide run

Fearful residents prepare for a bloody battle

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Filed under: CNN Inside Syria • Syria
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. hope


    You're blessed with a kind and gentle spirit... pure heart. Keep the faith.

    February 16, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. chrissy

    Ty hope, i try lol. Im really not an advocate of war, i just dont see any alternative in this case. Unfortunately for the people of Syria, they dont have oil for us to steal, or we woulda been there already.

    February 16, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. hope

    Nor am I. The activists didn't want war either but some people rule others with an iron fist. They were peaceful demonstrations... they did everything right. Surely, they won't be left to die for their valiant efforts.

    February 16, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. chrissy

    Well it sure looks as though they will! I am also not an advocate of suicide however, given the situation there, suicide might be a better, less painful option than genocide! Especially when its most obvious there is going to be NO HELP!

    February 16, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. leeintulsa

    You can say everyone did everything right, you can say whatever you want. There is no way to know. No one here can get in there to look. It's been alleged that the government are attacking civilians. How do we know the civilians aren't simply in the crossfire between government troops and rebels? We don't.

    If I was them, and this was my family? We'd be taking our chances making a mad dash in the middle of the night for anywhere other than homs.. With as many others as we could take.. Can't get us all..

    February 16, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • hope

      The demonstrations were reported on with photos and footage by every major network. Trust me, there are journalists there.


      February 16, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. hope


    No help? Please don't base your opinion on what a few hateful bloggers write. Besides, with all the deflection going on, the government and those in it may turn against Assad.

    February 16, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      I'm all for giving them help.
      I'm not all for another drawn out war.
      That does not make me hateful, but it does make me pragmatic.
      Another stellar performance by ST6 would be about right...
      If we can do with Syria what we did with Libya...I'm cool with that.
      I'm not against help for these poor people.
      I'm against another Iraq and Afghanistan.
      Why is that so hard to understand?

      February 17, 2012 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  7. gung hoe

    Well I will be darned chrissie we agree on this if you read my second blog,But Id be blown away if we do help being a election year with the potus. Geez if nothing else give them air support or drones.

    February 16, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gung hoe

    Send in the seals take out asaad

    February 16, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. chrissy

    EXACTLY gung hoe! Not to mention we have the BEST damn sniper force in the world!

    February 16, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  10. johnny

    This is complete crap, your evil Anderson pushing this fake videos. Nato death squads are attacking Syria on behalf of Obama's boss and petty polish aristocrat Zbignew. But this is what you get after NATO attacked an took of the usa on Sept11 http://tarpley.net/docs/drills_of_911.pdf

    February 16, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sarah

    Thank you to Arwa and all reporters brave enough to be in Syria at this time. God Bless you and your families.

    February 17, 2012 at 5:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Drgnphli

      I agree Arwa has been at the front lines in Afganistan & Iraq I believe. I was in Viet nam and at times I was as scared as a person could be. When I see Arwa out their getting more than a story, youi could FEEL what she's reportting. She lets you into the lives of these people that are crushed by what they're up against. That is THE mark of a REAL Journalist.
      I look forward to the time when violence, hatred, nationalism will be no more.

      November 20, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Dave

    I am taking this day to honor Mr. Shadid. He was an extremely brave journalist who died right in the middle of horific acts of a dictator who is killing his own people. There will be time for my bashing dishonest Politicians later, Today let us pray for Anthony & the man who took him over the border & both their families. God Bless these soldiers of Journalism.

    February 17, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  13. chrissy

    @ Dave, agree, Mr Shadid was a very brave and couragous man. God bless him. And @ banasy, agreed, if that takes care of that evil one and helps these poor people, than so much the better! But something MUST be done! And i know youre not hateful sweetie!

    February 17, 2012 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  14. chrissy

    @ johnny, NO one is attacking the Syrian dictator al-Assad! The UN issued a non binding request for him to step down. Thats the extent of the help these people have gotten from any powers!

    February 17, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
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