General Paul E. Vallely: Second humanitarian war zone tour
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EXCLUSIVE – Paul E. Vallely (Major General U.S. Army-Retired) takes second humanitarian tour of war zone at Turkish/Syrian border by Mr. Scott W. Winchell – SUA Editor
Last June, Paul E. Vallely (Major General U.S. Army, Retired) and SUA staff members took their first trip to the war torn region of Syria to meet with leaders of the opposition forces to the Bashar al Assad Regime in Hatay Province Turkey. On that trip, Paul Vallely and his team learned a great deal about the conflict and cemented a relationship forged earlier by SUA’s Middle East Adviser, regional sources, and trusted contacts.
Since that time, the bond grew in any areas, especially in terms of mutual respect, loyalty, and trust; so much so that SUA has been in virtual constant contact with the leadership of the Free Syrian Army and other factions conducting the operations of the freedom seeking Syrian people.
During these communications, the opposition leadership invited the General and his team back to the region to observe the situation more closely, to talk face to face with those who know, and to examine the humanitarian needs of the rebels and the civilian population suffering so greatly.
During the last few months, it was also learned from these communications that the real story of the opposition and the suffering of the civilian population was not getting to western leaders properly, or in most cases, at all, at least factually. Aid to the civilians has been flowing to the country, but more often than not, it has been falling into the wrong hands, and those truly in need have been left in want and forced to fend for themselves with whatever they could.
The greedy and those with nefarious motives thrive because of this and use it as bludgeon or as a negotiating tool to increase their strength and numbers. United Nations and other efforts have been abysmal failures and the opposition has had only one real friend in the west; Paul Vallely and his SUA team.
The confusion of information emanating from the region and other political capitols often conflicts wildly with the truth on the ground, and more-so, is only propaganda from the regime and its supporters – all major impediments to the opposition. Many reports have been aired by SUA in conjunction with these contacts, but it seems few notice or take heed that a very real connection exists and must be utilized to end the mayhem and help the Syrian people rise from the ruins and pools of blood to form a new, promising future.
It soon became clear in these communications that a formal relationship was needed so that a conduit could be created where trusted information could be transmitted in a well vetted fashion. The free Syrian forces and political structure have been in contact with regional relationships but no real communication exists with the west except through SUA, something they know is key to their success in joining the community of nations down the road.
Therefore, SUA announces the formation the Syrian Opposition Liaison Group (SOLG). This conduit to the west was requested by the opposition and is the only one they trust, and the only way they will move forward due in large measure to the dis-satisfactory efforts from formal governmental entities.
The SUA team took them up on their invitation and again traveled to the region at the end of October and has just now returned to the west. During their visit, many meetings took place with hundreds of official leaders and much information was gathered. Many more bonds were created, not only with the military and political leadership, but also with the medical and humanitarian efforts being conducted by the opposition itself.
There is no doubt that the regime will completely fail, the only question is when and at what further price. Over the next days and weeks, SUA will produce many reports from this latest humanitarian trip – some for the general public, and much more to aid the policy decisions that must be made in the coming weeks and months. To begin, the first of these reports is included below as compiled by the team in the field:
Editor’s Note – Many names have been shortened or given one letter designations to protect those involved on the team and in the region. After the report below is information that you can use to be of aid yourself to these efforts. Please consider donating to this cause. Currently, all efforts have been privately funded by SUA members and principles and will only continue as long as funds are available.
Medical/Humanitarian Needs Report
The following interview was conducted in Antakya, Hatay Province, Turkey, by Paul Vallely, Mike S., and Chip B. while on the SUA – SOLG Humanitarian Mission to assess the overall medical/humanitarian situation of non-combatant victims within Syria.
GENERAL SITUATION — Camps and secret medical safe houses within Syria are overflowing with wounded civilians desperate for medical assistance and food. Doctors and children are being specifically targeted as a genocide tactic to crush the resistance by the Free Syrian Army (FSA). This is a clear violation of the rules of international law and the Geneva Conventions to specifically target civilians and medical doctors who are non-combatants. In the case of children and specifically teenagers, the Canadian doctors gave specific information about treating children as young as 5 years of age for gunshot and shrapnel wounds. Dr. M stated that he was told that the intent of the Assad Regime was to permanently cripple the young by shooting them in the thighs and hips.
In one day, Doctors M and J performed 61 amputations of limbs without anesthesia and very little morphine. The rate of post-op infection is as high as 70%, resulting in a high mortality rate. The poor conditions force the doctors to perform surgical procedures in an extremely primitive and unsanitary environment. They are overwhelmed in performing triage and treating all casualties.
TARGETING CHILDREN— As stated, the doctors related that an overwhelming number of children have gunshot trauma to the knees, hips, and femurs. This causes the fathers serving in the Free Syrian Army (FSA), causing the Opposition fighters to abandon the cause and return home to care for the children. There is little chance for orthopedic procedures to save a limb because of the number of casualties and lack of supplies. Due to the lack of effective antibiotics, many of them develop infections. Numerous children arrive at the medical facilities with bandages on their wounds that have not been changed in several days.
TARGETING MEDICAL DOCTORS— Doctors M and J have stated that they are reluctant to wear clothing identifying them as doctors, such as scrubs or white coats because they have been the recipient of direct hostile fire specifically targeting them. They have been told by the refugees that doctors will be killed.
NEED FOR SF TRAINED COMBAT MEDICS — Doctors M and J stated there was a desperate need for U.S. trained medics who are graduates of U.S. Special Forces advanced combat medical training. They have the ability to triage patients, give primary treatment to patients with gunshot wounds, treat other injuries, and stabilize them until surgery can be performed.
MEDICINE AND SUPPLIES NEEDED — All medicines and certain medical instruments are in very short supply. The doctors specifically requested: morphine, propophol, fentanyl, ketamine, cipro, keflex, flagyl, GE hand-held ultrasound units, King airways, and other medicines and instruments. They also specifically requested “Sked Sleds”. A Sked Sled is a folding, compact litter that can be used to transport casualties. It was specifically designed by Special Forces medics to be light and portable in a combat zone.
RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE OF FEMALES — Numerous females have been raped and otherwise sexually abused by Assad’s soldiers. They have no protection since the male members of their families are fighting with FSA Opposition Forces. This is also a clear violation of international law.
Confirmation of rape and sexual abuse can be verified by contacting the office of Faten Ajjan in Antakya, Turkey. She is a Syrian Opposition activist, Skype contact: “bestay5″.
Mrs. Ajjan only speaks Arabic and she is the only woman within the Syrian revolution in charge of treating rape victims. Help is urgently needed.
CONCLUSIONS — We know the casualty rate is higher than reported. This information was obtained by interviews with doctors, FSA commanders, and human rights journalists. A conservative estimate would be in the area of seventy thousand with more expected, especially in the end days. The Doctors’ and the FSA commanders’ biggest fears are the future use of chemical weapons by the Assad Regime. There are many reports of symptomatic serious skin irritations on many fighters. This must be addressed before there is a repeat of what happened in Iraq. The SOLG team wants to thank the Turkish government for the opportunity to allow them access within the country to conduct these interviews and evaluations.
THIS IS A TIME CRITICAL SITUATION – The attacks by air, armor, and artillery continue on the civilian population, including children. The attacks are prohibited by International Law and the Geneva Convention. These atrocities are comparable to any past and historic genocide. NO government, legitimately recognized or not, can legally target and kill civilians and medical doctors in any conflict. Again, it is a SERIOUS violation of human rights and the rules of land warfare. Critical supplies and financial support are needed to alleviate the situation.
Donations can be made through: www.standupamericaus.org – a specific donation category will be added today to earmark your donation to the SUA-SOLG effort.
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