Born just three weeks after Iraqi forces declared that they had finally recaptured the last part of the city from Daesh, the twins would not know what it is like to grow up under the rebels’ draconian rule. But they are lucky in more ways than one — had they been born months earlier, their chances of survival would have been slim as the hospital’s neo-natal wings had been burned down by the militants.
Al-Khansa Hospital in East Mosul may be a shell of its former self but it is still the city’s main government-run maternity facility. Last month, despite severe shortages of medicines and equipment, it delivered nearly 1,400 babies.
When Daesh took over Mosul in 2014, the hospital stayed open — but residents were only allowed to use a quarter of it.
“We had all these fighters and their wives coming in and giving birth here,” said hospital administrator Dr. Aziz, adding that he had lost count of the number of militants’ babies delivered in his facility. “Mosul’s local residents always came second.”
As Iraqi forces began their campaign to liberate the city from Daesh control last year, the militants took over Al-Khansa, kicking out patients and sometimes shooting at staff to make them leave.
“We kept it open as long as we could,” Aziz said.