Abu Suleiman was working methodically to wrap the body of a seven-year-old girl in a white shroud. He didn’t flinch as a volley of mortar bombs crashed down only a street away. He has been preparing the dead for burial since the start of the uprising. Last week he had his busiest day.
Carefully, he folded over the white cloth to cover the girl’s curly chestnut hair, matted with blood. He did not clean it off. ‘If they are killed by a bomb or a bullet, we don’t wash their martyrs’ blood,’ he said. He wrote the girl’s name on the shroud, Nuha al-Manal. […]
He shouted at a hysterical woman in the makeshift hospital. Her son’s foot had been neatly severed by a mortar. Someone was holding it, wrapped in a bloody keffiyeh. She was ululating, clutching her face. ‘Give us guns so we can defend ourselves,’ she wailed, piercingly. Abu Sufyan had no patience with this. ‘We’ve had a hundred martyrs already today,’ he bellowed. ‘Get out so the doctors can work.’
Most of the casualties we saw were civilians and many were children. An 11-year-old boy was brought in. Most of his face had been torn off in an explosion. Everything below the mid-point of his nose was gone, bloody shreds hanging over a hole where his jaw and mouth had been.
Bombs were continually falling outside. People were screaming in the corridor. The boy was still conscious. We caught a glimpse of eyes wide with shock before the nurses pulled a screen across. We decided to try to find a surgeon outside Syria who could reconstruct his face, but the boy died of his wounds the following day.