We crossed over from Lebanon at night in an SUV. We traveled down a dirt road through the mountains, skirting Lebanese checkpoints. Our car was part of a small convoy bringing supplies to the Free Syrian Army (FSA). My vehicle was bringing in medical supplies, bandages, mostly. Some of the others brought military supplies: mostly ammunition, plus a few rocket-propelled grenades. I don't know who paid for them. It wasn't much.
We had to wait a while before being brought into Al Qusayr. When I arrived in the town I registered with the media center. They didn't know who I was, so I had to give them my CV and my background info. The activists who got me in there knew who I was, but not the people in Al Qusayr. So they vetted me, and everything was cool. So then I started to do some work.
Not much was going on when I arrived, aside from the Friday demonstrations against the government. It was pretty quiet. I was close to the field hospital, so I started spending time there. It wasn't a real hospital, of course -- just a bombed-out house. They converted a couple of bedrooms. When they fill up, the bodies go into the courtyard.
It's run by Dr. Qasim, a gastroenterologist. He used to run a hospital in one of the other towns in Homs province. When the war started the army took over his hospital, so he went to Al Qusayr, and has been working there ever since, running the field hospital for the past 18 months. He's the only game in town. Whenever the Syrian army finds out where it is, they shell it. I don't know how many times it's been moved. They shelled it twice while I was there, killing two patients and wounding two or three of the medical personnel.
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When I arrived it was quiet at first, but then the fighting started to pick up again in Homs. They started to shell the surrounding areas: mortars, rockets, tanks. The wounded started coming in. It just kept going on and on, and the wounded kept piling up. Government troops had taken over the state hospital in the center of town and the mayor's building and used them as sniper posts. The Syrian army would try to push their checkpoints forward into the city, and the FSA would try to repulse their advance. This went on for a few days at a time.
The FSA soldiers aren't well-trained. They have small arms, and that's pretty much it. They have homemade bombs, percussion grenades they've made with black powder and duct tape and a fuse they have to light. They have almost no basic training, and there's very little coordination. When I went with them they'd get pinned down. They'd bunch up in the doorways. The Syrian Army has helicopters, heavy artillery, even drones. There are surveillance drones overhead all the time, looking down at the rebels.
There were rumors that Hezbollah fighters were coming in from Lebanon to support the Syrian government troops. (I can't verify that, but everyone certainly believed it.) What's definitely true is that the fighting intensified about then, and even more wounded started coming in. The doctors in the field hospital can sew up your guts and put them back in, but there's a lot they can't do. They can't really crack your sternum. They can't treat severe head injury. They can't remove a bullet from your heart or lung. So they'd evacuate the people with wounds like that to Lebanon, carrying them out over the border. I don't know how many of the wounded survived or died. I'm sure there were lots of problems with infections.