Treating the Wounded in Syria’s Complex Conflict
29 October 2019
Tel Tamir, Syria
Recently, the Syrian Army came up to reinforce the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against the oncoming Turkish-led Free Syrian Army (FSA) onslaught that has swept down from the Turkish Syria border to eight kilometers north of Tel Tamir. They are also now eight kilometers to the west of Tel Tamir and closing in on the city.
This zone is one of ethnic cleansing with 300,000 people displaced. Many have been killed and wounded. Homes are destroyed. The Kurds are calling this area “the genocide zone.” The safe zone is not safe by any definition. It is the zone of the Turkish invasion. We’ve seen their tanks and been fired upon by those tanks and their aircraft. There has been no ceasefire this whole time.
Meeting the Syrian Army was a surprise. They came up to help fill the gap and those I talked with were shocked to see an American. Right away, we began to treat their wounded as they came in off the front.
On Sunday, 27 Oct., we got back to Tel Tamir Hospital from the frontline and saw trucks with wounded Syrian Army soldiers from Assad’s regime coming in with their flags flying. We had heard that the Syrian Army was going to come up and help support the Kurds from this Turkish invasion and they did. They had gone up to plug the gaps and got instantly hit by the FSA infantry and Turkish tanks, artillery, and mortars. Many were wounded.
As we were helping move the wounded in, one was so badly wounded they decided to send him to better care in Qamishli once he was stabilized. I waited with him as they prepped the ambulance and cradled his head with a pillow and began to talk to him. I found out that he was actually from Qamishli and that he wanted to live.
“I’m an American and I’m here to help. And I come not just as an American to help but as a human, a child of God like you, to help you. We’re at your service to treat those who are wounded. We treat all people with impartiality and love,” I told him. I prayed with him, asking for God’s blessing and healing and that God would be with him. He smiled at me and held my hand as I prayed. I hope that he lives.
After that, we talked to the Syrian Army commander who had come in with the wounded and told him to call us if he needed help. He said he would. So, we have some new friends now but they look at us, of course, with a lot of skepticism.
As we were up at the front again on Oct. 28, the Syrian Army was there, trying to hold the line but being pounded by Turkish tanks. Turkey’s proxies, the FSA infantry, were also pushing the Syrian Army back with many casualties who we treated and then evacuated six wounded Syrian Army soldiers. Later on, we found out that some of the Syrian soldiers in front of us had been captured and executed by the Free Syrian Army.
My prayer is that we can continue to help anyone who needs help and stand with the Kurds, Christians, Muslims and Yezidis and others here, resisting oppression. I pray that there would be a change of US policy to step back in and that everyone involved here- the US, Turkey, Syria, Russia- would put a place at the table for the Kurds/SDF and Christians and others and together negotiate the proper safe line which is the Turkish-Syrian border.
We pray that people could go home and that we could address the issues that each nation has – the legitimate Turkish concerns, the Russian concerns, the Syrian government concerns, and most of all the concerns of those being chased out – the Kurds, Christians, and Yezidis.
This is a brutal situation. We are praying that somehow, the Turkish/FSA advance stops. In the meantime, we are grateful for new friends here, for being able to help the wounded soldiers and the Kurds, and for all of you who continue to pray.
Thank you for praying for us and God bless you,
Dave Eubank and the Free Burma Rangers