Local doctors to aid in Syrian relief efforts

One doctor born and raised in Aleppo
Posted at 10:11 PM, Dec 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-19 07:14:27-05

Doctors and nurses with the humanitarian group Syrian American Medical Society are preparing to leave on a trip to aid those fleeing the violence in Aleppo. 

One of those doctors has a very personal connection to the crisis: he was born and raised there. 

Dr. Bassel Atassi grew up in Aleppo but now lives in Chicago. He is one of 80 U.S. doctors and nurses heading to a camp in Jordan to provide medical care to refugees, including many from the Milwaukee area. 

All while he watches his hometown fall to pieces. 

"Imagine that you see that destroyed, in your eyes," he said. 

Atassi has gone on many relief missions working for the Syrian American Medical Society. He says refugees and civilians fleeing the civil war in Aleppo can't even access basic medical care. 

"In the last two weeks, three of the major hospitals that SAMS supports has been destroyed by air strikes," said Atassi. 

He says his organization has set up underground hospitals and clinics to provide medical care as the four-year long battle continues between the Syrian government and rebel opposition. 

He briefly spoke about his work at an interfaith vigil Sunday night where dozens of people gathered to pray for Syria. 

While Atassi prepares to return to the area, he says most of his family has fled Syria as refugees. 

"There's no description for this," he said. "It's beyond any description, it's very heartbreaking."  

For more information about SAMS or to make a donation toward its relief efforts, click here.