US troops clear rubble from Iraq base days after Iran strike

US troops clear rubble from Iraq base days after Iran strike
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A bulldozer clears rubble and debris at Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. (AP)
US troops clear rubble from Iraq base days after Iran strike
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Bulldozers clear rubble and debris at Ain Al-Asad air base in Anbar, Iraq on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 13 January 2020

US troops clear rubble from Iraq base days after Iran strike

US troops clear rubble from Iraq base days after Iran strike
  • The Ain Al-Asad air base in Iraq’s western Anbar province is a sprawling complex about 180 kilometers west of Baghdad
  • Ain Al-Asad air base was first used by American forces after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein

AIN AL-ASAD BASE, Iraq: US troops were clearing rubble and debris on Monday from a military base housing American soldiers in western Iraq, days after it was struck by Iranian ballistic missiles.
The Ain Al-Asad air base in Iraq’s western Anbar province is a sprawling complex about 180 kilometers west of Baghdad and houses about 1,500 members of the US military and the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State militant group.
It was struck by a barrage of Iranian missiles on Wednesday, in retaliation for the US drone strike that killed a top Iranian commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, whose killing raised fears of a wider war in the Middle East.
An Associated Press crew touring the Ain Al-Asad base Monday saw large craters in the ground and damaged military trailers as well as forklifts lifting rubble and loading it onto trucks from a large area the size of a football stadium.
The US said no American soldiers were killed or wounded in the Iranian attack.
Ain Al-Asad air base was first used by American forces after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, and later saw American troops stationed there amid the fight against the Daesh group in Iraq and Syria.
Trump visited the sprawling Ain Al-Asad air base in December 2018, making his first presidential visit to troops in the region. Vice President Mike Pence also has visited the base.


Patients die at home as Lebanese oxygen supplies run low

Patients die at home as Lebanese oxygen supplies run low
Lebanese soldiers patrol as they try to enforce a total lockdown in the southern suburbs of Beirut as a measure against the COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP)
Updated 18 January 2021

Patients die at home as Lebanese oxygen supplies run low

Patients die at home as Lebanese oxygen supplies run low
  • Hospitals are running out of space and supplies as infections continue to rise
  • All the beds designated for COVID-19 patients in hospitals are occupied, as well as in emergency departments, and there are dozens of patients moving from one hospital to another in search of a bed

BEIRUT: Many doctors specializing in bacterial and infectious diseases expect a further jump in the number of people of infected with COVID-19 next week in Lebanon with hospitals exceeding their capacity.

On Sunday, the total number of laboratory-confirmed infections exceeded a quarter of a million people in the country.

In the first 17 days of the year 67,655 new cases were recorded, and the lockdown period is expected to be extended for at least 10 more days.

Suleiman Haroun, head of the Lebanese Syndicate of Private Hospitals, said: “The epidemiological scene in Lebanon reflects part of the reality, not all of it. The real situation will be worse yet.”

He said: “All the beds designated for COVID-19 patients in hospitals are occupied, as well as in emergency departments, and there are dozens of patients moving from one hospital to another in search of a bed. Hospitals have exceeded their capacity.”

Pulmonologist and intensive care specialist Dr. Wael Jaroush said: “I have never seen anything like what I see in the hospitals now. I never imagined that I would ever go through such an experience. There is no room for patients in the emergency departments.

“They are dying in their homes. Some of them are begging to buy oxygen generators, new or second hand.

“The price of a new one is normally $700, yet people are selling used devices for about $5,000, and some patients are forced to buy them in foreign currency, meaning that the patient’s family buy the dollar on the black market for more than LBP8,000.”

Jaroush said that patients were infected with the virus because of mixing with other people at the end of last year and in the first 10 days of January. He expected that their number would increase during Monday and Tuesday. He would wait to see if the numbers declined on Wednesday and Thursday.

He said that 10-liter oxygen bottles and smaller ones are out of stock “because of the high demand on them, either for storage due to lack of confidence in the state, or because they are not available in hospitals.”

“As a doctor, I come across patients who tell me that they bought the oxygen bottle two months ago, for example, and put it in their homes, just as they did when they resorted to storing medicines.”

He pointed out: “These oxygen bottles do not last long. A COVID-19 patient who cannot find a vacant bed in the hospital and is asked to find oxygen and stay at home needs 40 or 50 liters of oxygen. So when the 10-liter oxygen bottle runs out, the patient dies because his heart stops. This is happening now and some patients have died in their homes.”

Jaroush said: “The cardiologist Dr. Mustafa Al-Khatib suffered from COVID-19 yesterday and could not find even a chair in the emergency department. Since yesterday we doctors have been trying to find a place for him so that he can have a blood test and a scan for his lungs. This is our situation.”

On Sunday, it was announced that the Military Hospital in Beirut also exceeded its capacity. The hospital cares for military personnel and their families.

This prompted its management to take 23 rooms in a private hospital that was damaged in the Beirut port explosion last August. The Lebanese Army Works Regiment is working to make it available within days to accommodate cases that need intensive care.

In addition to the lack of capacity, there was also a lack of medical supplies.

Activists on social media circulated calls to secure oxygen bottles that are needed for patients in hospitals that are needed for patients.

The search for hospital beds has caused disputes between the Lebanese Red Cross paramedics and some hospitals.

Georges Kettaneh, Lebanese Red Cross secretary-general, said: “The Red Cross responds to all crises in the country, especially COVID-19, and from the beginning we demanded hospitals to be ready. It was expected that disputes would arise between the Red Cross and some hospitals due to the decision of the Minister of Health in the caretaker government, Hamad Hassan, to receive all cases in hospitals.”

Assem Araji, the head of parliament’s health committee, said: “Despite the sanctions that the Ministry of Health decided to impose on some private hospitals that did not respond to the request to open departments to receive patients, certain hospitals did not comply. We have reached a catastrophic stage that calls for national responsibility.”

Araji expressed his belief that “a complete lockdown for 11 days is not sufficient to limit the spread of the virus. Rather, it should be closed for three weeks, as recommended by the World Health Organization.”

Many well-known figures in Lebanon have died of the coronavirus during the past days.