Aleppo mourns devoted Syrian paediatrician killed in airstrike
Syrian doctor Mohammad Waseem Maaz saved the lives of countless children in the war-ravaged neighbourhoods of Aleppo city before an airstrike this week on a hospital took his own.
He kept his beard nearly trimmed and maintained an unlikely sense of humour given the horrors he saw on a near daily basis in the rebel-held parts of the northern city.
"Dr Maaz was considered the best paediatrician and was one of the last ones left in this hell," one of his colleagues told AFP.
Late on Wednesday night, an airstrike on the al-Quds hospital in the Sukkari neighbourhood took his life and those of a dentist, three nurses, and 22 civilians.
|Dr Maaz was originally from Aleppo and had been preparing to travel across the border to Turkey to visit his family|
Maaz was originally from Aleppo and had been preparing to travel across the border to Turkey to visit his family.
"Like so many others, Dr Maaz was killed for saving lives," said Dr Hatem, a colleague who preferred not to give his full name.
Hatem manages the Children's Hospital in Aleppo, where Dr Maaz worked during the day before tending to emergency cases in al-Quds hospital overnight.
"Dr Maaz and I used to spend six hours a day together. He was friendly, kind and he used to joke a lot with the whole staff. He was the loveliest doctor in our hospital," Hatem wrote in a letter published by The Syria Campaign advocacy group.
More than 270,000 people have been killed in Syria's brutal conflict, which has seen hospitals destroyed and medical staff killed across the country.
"Dr Maaz stayed in Aleppo, the most dangerous city in the world, because of his devotion to his patients," Hatem said.
Al-Quds hospital was supported by both Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
|Dr Maaz stayed in Aleppo, the most dangerous city in the world, because of his devotion to his patients|
MSF said it had been donating medical supplies since 2012 to the 34-bed al-Quds hospital, where eight doctors and 28 nurses worked full time.
"Out of the eight doctors, there are now only six left," Miskilda Zancada, the head of MSF's Syria mission, told AFP from Kilis in Turkey.
She said 95 percent of the doctors in opposition-held parts of the city have left or been killed, leaving between 70 to 80 doctors to treat 250,000 people.
"The people who are left in Aleppo are the most vulnerable," Zancada said.
MSF spokeswoman Mirella Hodeib said Dr Maaz was a "very dedicated paediatrician and chose to risk his life to help the people of Aleppo".
"His death is a terrible loss."
An upsurge in fighting in Aleppo, Syria's pre-war commercial hub, has killed over 200 people since Friday.
The bloodshed has brought a landmark February 27 ceasefire to the verge of collapse and raised fears of a humanitarian crisis in the northern metropolis.
The International Committee of the Red Cross is warning that Aleppo is on the brink of a humanitarian disaster as a result of renewed fighting, adding that millions are at a grave risk.