Translating Humanitarian Emergency into Medical Aid in Syria

Claire Glasscoe


Kassem Khateeb

The Assad regime security forces detained Kassem after he participated in unarmed, peaceful protest in July 2011 at the beginning of the conflict. He was an economics student at the time, studying at the University in Aleppo. Leaflets distributed by the Regime offered an amnesty to those who took part in protests yet were unarmed. But this turned out to be a trick to catch protestors and dupe them into surrendering their rights. He was imprisoned and tortured for 2 years and 4 months, mostly in Aleppo Central Prison until his family paid a sum of money for his release. Unbeknown to his gaolers, Kassem kept a secret diary that helped him to document his experiences

Commander Mohammad Al Ahmed

Mohammad is a representative from the Free Syrian Army fighting both the Assad regime and ISIS in Syria. He comments here on Kassem's experience as a detainee and draws a comparison between that and the treatment those taken prisoner by the Free Syrian Army can expect under his command. He also explains the prison structure and how international law could be applied to the human rights of detainees held by the Assad regime within the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR). But further to this, Mohammad clarifies what unites the people of Syria in their quest for freedom and justice. He then links these aspirations to those held in a world guided by humanitarian values - drawing similarities between the basic tenets of Islam and the principles set out in the 1949 Geneva Convention.
Major Osama Al Khalil

Osama was an officer in the Syrian Arab Army but unlike most of his military colleagues he is a Sunni Muslim. As such he is a soldier who, for reasons of his religious faith was not trusted to follow orders to kill and seen as a potential source of revolt. Along with other Sunni Muslim officers, Osama was arrested in November 2011 and detained for almost three years in Sednaya prison.
Sednaya is one of the most feared detention centres in Syria with a reputation for extreme abuse and death under torture. Osama's feet were deliberately broken while in prison but then in June 2014 he was abruptly released and instructed to return to his post - he didn't.

Instead he moved with his family to a free area and is now receiving an extensive course of corrective surgery in Turkey to enable him to stand and walk unaided. Here he describes the extent of the cruelty metered out to detainees in Sednaya and is haunted by the plight of those still imprisoned there.