Syria: British Doctor Killed In Hospital Attack

Charlotte Lomas, Sky News Reporter
Syria: British Doctor Killed In Hospital Attack

A young British doctor has been killed in an attack in northern Syria.

Isa Abdur Rahman, 26, was working for the charity Hand in Hand for Syria and had been treating civilians at a field hospital in the northwestern Idlib province when a shell hit on Wednesday morning. He died of his injuries soon afterwards.

The charity has blamed government forces for the attack, which also killed two civilians.

Dr Abdur Rahman, who was married and from North London, had been working as a doctor in the country for almost a year, moving between refugee camps and secret clinics. He would perform operations on civilians injured by heavy shelling and aerial bombardment.

He trained at Imperial College and worked at the Royal Free Hospital in London before volunteering in Syria. He was not a native Arabic speaker but in less than a year had mastered the language and was very popular with the local people.

Dr Mahmoud al Akraa, a trustee of Hand in Hand for Syria and also a close friend of the young doctor, said he was a very likeable person.

"Once you met Isa you never forgot him. He was so kind, so warm and so brave. He had the respect of everyone and would do anything to help others in need," he said.

"One time one of the refugee camps in Syria had cholera and no doctor would go in, except Isa. He would risk his life for others.

"He worked up until midnight and would treat hundreds of patients each day. He would then sleep rough in a sleeping bag and often not wash for days."

Doctors in Syria work under hugely challenging conditions. There is a severe shortage of resources and they face a daily danger of coming under attack. Many work in secret clinics hidden inside homes to avoid being targeted by government forces fighting to stop the opposition to President Bashar al Assad.

Dr al Akraa said he had tried to persuade Isa to stay in the UK.

"When Isa was back in London six weeks ago I tried to encourage him not to go back to Syria, that he was married, young and had so much to live for here," he said.

"But he said no. He told me that people needed him and he would feel ashamed to let them down. He loved the people in Syria and they loved him."

A fundraising page set up in Isa’s memory on the website Just Giving has already raised £25 000, with the total continuing to rise.

Hand in Hand for Syria has said the money will fund the building of a field hospital in his name, in the Syrian city of Homs, which was his long-term ambition.