Rescue volunteers in Daraa say they are overwhelmed by the bombardment and and lament the lack of equipment at their disposal to help civilians.
GAZIANTEP, Turkey – Syrian government bombs have continued to rain down on Daraa in recent days as thousands of civilians have sought shelter.
Civilians trapped inside makeshift homes have described an “unbearable” situation as government forces, flanked by Russian warplanes, ramp up a bombing campaign of the area.
Meanwhile, rescue volunteers and hospitals are struggling to cope with the influx of casualties, as their facilities continue to be bombed by pro-government forces.
Air strikes left 22 civilians dead on Thursday alone, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Since the bombing campaign began, at least five hospitals were shelled out of service. A facility belonging to MSF was among the five that was destroyed by government warplanes.
Shadi al-Horane, 29, a medical worker at the Hirak medical point, was inside one of the medical facilities when it was bombed.
“The hospital was already nursing dozens of civilians who had suffered severe injuries when all of a sudden a heavy explosion left us all on the floor,” Horane told Middle East Eye.
“There was dust everywhere, people were screaming. No words, footage, nothing, could explain the horror we experienced.
“The situation is unbearable… The regime must stop. There are no terrorists or ISIS here like they claim. This happened in Aleppo and Ghouta. Why is the world letting Assad do this again in Daraa?”
The hospital Horane was working for was destroyed, with only some of the medical machines, including scanning equipment and baby incubators surviving the attack.
But despite evacuating many of its patients from the Hirak medical point to underground facilities, the medical staff now lacks equipment, as high temperatures prevent people from breathing properly.
White Helmets running out of staff
Rescue volunteers from the Syrian Civil Defence Forces (SCD), also known as the White Helmets, told MEE that “all kinds of weapons” were being used against civilians.
Among the weapons used by pro-government forces include the Iranian-built Fajr missile, the civil defence said.
Amer Abouzaid, the media spokesperson for the civil defence in Daraa city, said three of its facilities were bombed out of service by Russian and Syrian government jets.
The intensity of the bombing has meant that the rescuers are “running out of staff” after several members of the rescue group were killed in action helping civilians.
“We are running out of equipment. The regime and Russians have bombed our teams working on the ground, and several of our bases,” Abouzaid told MEE.
“This has meant that it takes us longer to reach some areas, and in some cases, we are not able to get there in time.”
Abouzaid highlighted the White Helmets’ efforts to place as many civilians as possible inside schools and basements in the hope of keeping them alive.
But the fear and panic amongst the population has meant that many are fearful of leaving their homes.
The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights reported on Thursday that 76 civilians had been killed since the start of the government offensive on 19 June.
The Syrian army and its allied militia have lost 58 troops during clashes with rebel forces and in two car bombs set off in the town of Nahte, east of Daraa, the monitor said.
Living in fear
Siraj Ghassani, 43, is a father of six children who has been living in the al-Shaykh Saad village in Daraa’s countryside his whole life. The bombing has forced him to stay inside his home.
“We don’t have basements to hide inside. It is a horrible feeling when you hear the sound of explosions and Syrian jets flying just above your head,” Ghassani told Middle East Eye via Whatsapp.
“Helicopters and warplanes are flying above us all day to scare us.
“We rarely go outside now because of it, and if I do, I run to get what we need for the house, and run back home.”
Thousands have reportedly attempted to flee to neighbouring Jordan in the hope of seeking refuge. The United Nations earlier this week reported that at least 50,000 civilians have been displaced from their homes in the Daraa province since 19 June.
But Jordanian authorities have voiced concerns over the weekend regarding the new wave of Syrian refugees, saying it would be “unable” to take in any more.