In a story reminiscent of the “ripping babies from incubators” tale that surfaced in the lead-up to the 1991 Gulf War against Saddam Hussein-led Iraq, a British doctor has told the U.K. press that snipers working for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad deliberately target pregnant women to use their unborn babies as target practice.
David Nott, a volunteer surgeon who has worked in numerous war zones and recently returned from Syria, said that in one day at the Syrian hospital where he worked, six pregnant women were treated for gunshot wounds, followed by two on another day.
“The women were all shot through the uterus, so that must have been where they were aiming for,” Nott was quoted as saying. “This was deliberate. It was hell beyond hell.”
The women survived but their unborn babies all died, Nott said.
Nott said that on different days, the snipers would aim for different parts of civilians’ bodies. He said that on any given day, several gunshot victims would be admitted to the hospital with nearly identical types of wounds.
“It was a game,” he said. “We heard the snipers were winning packets of cigarettes for hitting the correct number of targets.”
Nott would not reveal the name or location of the hospital where he served.
He also said he did not know which side the snipers were on, but it was his belief that they were employed by Assad’s regime. He also heard that there were 72 snipers in the area around the hospital, mostly mercenaries from China and Azerbaijan.
A charity organization, Syria Relief, posted a shocking picture on its website of a foetus with a bullet apparently lodged in its skull. However, as the Telegraph newspaper pointed out in its report on the allegations, “[the pictures’] authenticity could not be verified and the skull in the image showed no sign of damage from a high velocity bullet.”
The image from Syria Relief can be seen above.
While the sniper story may yet be authenticated, it is worth remembering that in 1990 after Saddah Hussein’s Iraq invaded neighboring Kuwait, reports appeared in the press that Iraqi soldiers had entered Kuwaiti hospitals and ripped babies who had been born prematurely from the incubators keeping the infants alive. The story sparked public outrage and was a key factor in winning support for a U.S.-led attack on Iraq.
In 1992, one year after the war, the “incubators” story was exposed as a fabrication.
Sources: The Telegraph, Syria Relief, The Daily Express, Christian Science Monitor