A wounded fighter sits outside a hospital in Reyhanli, a Turkish town
several miles from the Syrian border. Turkish hospitals are struggling to cope
with the increasing number of wounded men, women and children arriving from
Syria. Last year, the number of Syrians treated in Turkey averaged about 170 per
month. As of early October, the number is now approximately 700, according to
On a single day in mid-August, around 100 wounded Syrians arrived in Turkey
after a Syrian army air strike against Azaz, a town close to the border. Fifteen
Bomb damage in the border town of Azaz; reportedly, the result of a Syrian
Army air strike in which more than 100 Syrians were wounded, and 15 were
A Syrian man cradles his son outside a hospital in Reyhanli. “This is
overwhelming the Turkish government,” says Khaula Sawah, a Syrian-American
doctor who left her home in in the United States to join the relief effort.
According to Sawah, many Syrian patients are discharged before they fully
recover in order to make room for new arrivals.
Sawah inside a medical supplies shop in Antakya. In August, she and others
converted a girls’ dormitory in Reyhanli into a rehabilitation center for
wounded Syrian fighters. The center provides recovering patients access to
drugs, medical staff, and modern medical equipment.
Others aren’t so lucky. In a house in Reyhanli, wounded rebels sleep more
than a dozen per room. “Usually we have between 30 and 50 people, sometimes even
up to 100,” says Abdullah Nakami, 48, pointing around the flat. “This is dirty;
this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.”
Nakami, a Syrian veteran of the Balkan wars (“I fought for the Bosnian
army, I wasn’t a mujahedeen,” he says), arrived in Turkey during the summer. He
asked the rebels if he could join the fighting in Syria. They persuaded him to
look after the wounded instead.
In one of the rooms lies Emad Hassan Khalid, paralyzed from the waist down
by the same mortar shell that killed 10 of his family members. Emad, who shares
a small room with seven others, has been in the house since April. He believes
he will walk again, saying, “I will make the haji [to Mecca] when this is all