Having lost kin to Assad shelling, nurse backs FSA

Updated 07 April 2013
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Having lost kin to Assad shelling, nurse backs FSA

Umm Abed once worked as a nurse at a military hospital in Syria’s Lattakia province, treating wounded soldiers, but when army shelling killed her brother and mother she decided to support the fighters.
“How could I continue to treat the soldiers who killed my mother and brother,” asks the 27-year-old, her face encircled by a black veil that cascades over her black overcoat.
Umm Abed abandoned her post at the hospital in the northeastern province to staff a makeshift hospital facility in the area of Jabal Al-Akrad held by the Free Syrian Army (FSA). She is now treating wounded fighters and civilians and those who have fallen ill from poor diet or contaminated drinking water. She works in the town of Salma, once a beautiful summer resort, but now the almost daily target of government shelling.
Jabal Al-Akrad is an important strategic point. It is bordered on the south by the stronghold of the ruling clan — the Alawite mountains.
When she left the military hospital, Umm Abed left behind her friends, including an Alawite with whom she was “very close.”
“When I left my job, she asked me why I was leaving. I told her what had happened to my brother and my mother,” Umm Abed said.
“I was very surprised when she sent me a letter calling me a terrorist,” the standard regime term for fighters.
Umm Abed is one of four women who works in shifts day and night to receive and treat the sick and wounded.
Her colleague Manal has been running the pharmacy for the past 10 months.
“When I arrived, there were just three or four of us working in the hospital. I looked around and realized that I was the only girl in all of Jabal Al-Akrad,” she says.
Her family fled the area, but she says she decided to stay because of the scope of the needs of the population left behind.
“I became stronger than a million men,” she says with a smile, her eyes lined with kohl.
She trained on the job to learn how to treat shrapnel wounds and how to deliver emergency care even as shelling goes on all around.
The staff live in the hospital, or in houses nearby, and are available 24 hours a day. They speak to their families by phone at night, when the generator allows them to recharge their batteries or use the Internet.
Some of them haven’t seen their families for months, but they have created one of sorts in the hospital.
“Here, we discovered solidarity. We work hand-in-hand, men and women, to help other people,” one of the women working at the hospital says, declining to give her name.
“They can bomb as much as they want. We’re not afraid anymore,” she says, as the shock wave from a nearby airstrike shakes the building.


4 ex-presidents among hundreds at Barbara Bush’s funeral

Updated 21 April 2018
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4 ex-presidents among hundreds at Barbara Bush’s funeral

  • President Trump's misses out on attending former first lady Barbara Bush's funeral
  • Former US presidents and their spouses attend the funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush

HOUSTON: Four former presidents joined ambassadors, sports stars and hundreds of other mourners on a gray, rainy day Saturday at the private funeral for Barbara Bush, filling the nation’s largest Episcopal church a day after more than 6,000 people paid their respects to the woman known by many as “America’s matriarch.”
President George H.W. Bush was helped into the cavernous sanctuary with a wheelchair behind his sons, former President George W. Bush and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and other Bush relatives to remember his wife of 73 years who died at their home Tuesday at age 92.
Also seated near the front of the church, in the same pew, were two other former presidents — Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — along with their wives and current first lady Melania Trump.
Flags were flown at half-mast for the wife of the nation’s 41st president and mother of the nation’s 43rd as the service began at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, as the choir sang “My Country Tis of Thee.” The church is adorned with sprays of yellow garden roses, yellow snap dragons, antique hydrangeas and other flowers.
Among the other roughly 1,500 guests were former Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, and professional golfer Phil Mickelson, along with Karl Rove, and other former White House staff. Many were seen embracing in the church before the service.
President Donald Trump isn’t attending to avoid security disruptions and “out of respect for the Bush family and friends attending the service,” according to the White House. He released a statement Saturday saying his “thoughts and prayers” are “with the entire Bush family.”
A burial will follow at the Bush Library at Texas A&M University, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) northwest of Houston. The burial site is in a gated plot surrounded by trees and near a creek where the couple’s 3-year-old daughter, Robin, who died of leukemia in 1953, is buried.
The family has said Barbara Bush had selected son Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor, to deliver a eulogy along with her longtime friend Susan Baker, wife of former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, and historian Jon Meacham, who wrote a 2015 biography of her husband.
The funeral program shows that her grandchildren will also play prominent roles: her granddaughters will offer readings during the service and her grandsons will serve pallbearers.
On Friday, a total of 6,231 people stopped by the church to pay their respects. Many of the women wore the former first lady’s favorite color, blue, and trademark pearls.
After seeing how many people had lined up to pay their respects to his wife, former President George H.W. Bush decided to attend — he sat at the front of the church in a wheelchair, offering his hand and smiled as people shook it, for about 15 minutes.
Barbara and George Bush were married longer than any other presidential couple when she died Tuesday at their home in Houston. She was 92.
One of just two first ladies to have a child elected president, Barbara Bush was widely admired for her plainspoken style and her advocacy for causes including literacy and AIDS awareness.
Barbara Bush was known as the “Enforcer” in her family, the glue who kept the high-powered clan together. Eight of her grandsons will serve as pallbearers.