As Bombs Fall, A Neurosurgeon Tells How He Keeps Calm In Syria

Dr. Omar Ibrahim spoke to NPR via Skype from the only working hospital in south Idlib province. The staff, he says, has "just moved into the basement [because of] the attacks."
Dr. Omar Ibrahim: "You have to be calm because people are scared, the civilians and the patients are scared, and they can't see you scared." Source: Courtesy of Omar Ibrahim

"Sorry for late reply. We've been under nonstop airstrikes today, and I've been with emergency patients all day."

I received that Skype message in response to a request to interview 32-year-old neurosurgeon Omar Ibrahim, originally from Egypt but based for the past five years in Syria and the last two in Idlib, the northwest province that has been experiencing heavy bombardment by government forces and their allies since late April. According to reports from doctors on the, in that time 19 hospitals and medical clinics have been damaged or destroyed, further straining the area's already impaired health care network. NPR spoke to Ibrahim via Skype on May 31 during a break in his schedule. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and space.

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