British medical volunteers 'treating IS wounded in Iraq'

British medical volunteers 'treating IS wounded in Iraq'
Medical staff in Iraq's Nineveh province say group of nine British-Sudanese medical students who entered Syria illegally are now working in hospitals in Iraq.
3 min read
24 March, 2015
Eight of the nine British medical students [supplied]
Nine British-Sudanese medical students who illegally entered Syria have now crossed into Nineveh in Iraq to treat injured fighters from the Islamic State group, according to the claims of two medical staff in the province.

Sarmad al-Ayyoubi, an Iraqi doctor at a hospital in the northern province of Nineveh, told al-Araby al-Jadeed that the group had arrived at the central hospital in the city of Mosul on Tuesday.

"From there, they were allocated to different hospitals according to head of the health bureau," he said.

However, he said that Iraqi medical staff had been forbidden from speaking to the group, who were there specifically to treat wounded IS fighters.

"The IS has imposed strict procedures and has forbidden the student doctors from speaking to Iraqi doctors. Workers in the Iraqi hospitals are not allowed to interact with injured IS fighters - only IS medical staff can deal with them and treat them."

Ayyoubi added that doctors at the hospitals have expressed their doubts about the effectiveness of the group. "They are not yet doctors and need to practise for four years before being charged with surgical duties," he said.
     They were allocated to different hospitals according to head of the health bureau.
Sarmad al-Ayyoubi, doctor in Nineveh hospital.

The group of nine British-Sudanese medical students are in their late teens and early 20s, and had been enrolled at a medical school in Khartoum. They travelled from Sudan to Turkey before entering Syria earlier this month.

Lena Maumoon Abdulqadir, at 19 one of the youngest members, told her family of their intention before they crossed.

Saif al-Din Hasan, an employee in the Nineveh medical sector, also told al-Araby that the British group had been moved to hospitals in Nineveh.

"IS has began relying on foreign doctors and the group brought a number of doctors from Syria, in addition to this group of British," he said.

"The Iraqi medical sector, especially in Mosul, is suffering from a lack of staff, equipment and medicine. Medicine for long-term illnesses are being sold for astronomical prices, while medicines from the Iraqi government cannot get through due to the IS control of Nineveh.

"Hospitals are empty of doctors as a result of IS policies. The IS segregated men from women and forced forced women doctors to wear the niqab and appointed hospital managers loyal to the group.

"There are doctors who refused to work with the group were punished, with houses confiscated and salaries stopped."
     Doctors who refused to work with the group were punished, with houses confiscated and salaries stopped.
Saif al-Din Hasan, medical worker

Hasan said that local hospital staff were forbidden from talking to foreign medical staff who are treating IS fighters.

Many parents of the group have travelled to the Syria-Turkey border and implored their children to leave IS-controlled territory.

Abdulqadir said she wanted to "volunteer to help wounded Syrian people", but her family is convinced she has joined the IS group.

With Abdulqadir are three women and five men. They are named as Nada Sami Kader, Rowan Kamal Zine El Abidine, Tasneem Suleyman Huseyin, Ismail Hamadoun, Tamer Ahmed Ebu Sebah, Mohamed Osama Badri Mohammed, Hisham Mohammed Fadlallah and Sami Ahmed Kadir.

The British Home Office said last week that the medics would not automatically face prosection under anti-terrorism laws if they returned to the UK, as long as the could prove they had not been fighting.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office told al-Araby that it did not have specific information on the whereabouts of the group, but it was working closely with family members and Turkish authorities on the case.

This is an edited translation of the original Arabic.