LONDON (AFP) - Syrian snipers appear to be targeting pregnant women, a British surgeon said on Saturday after returning from the conflict zone.
David Nott, who spent five weeks volunteering at a Syrian hospital, told The Times newspaper the gunshot wounds he had treated also indicated that bored snipers were targeting particular parts of civilians' bodies in a bid to entertain themselves.
"One day it would be shots to the groin. The next, it would only be the left chest," he told the newspaper.
"From the first patients that came in in the morning, you could almost tell what you would see for the rest of the day. It was a game." Nott, a prominent surgeon who counts former prime minister Tony Blair as an ex-patient, said he had treated more than half a dozen shot pregnant women on one day in the Syrian city, which he did not identify for security reasons.
On another day, two consecutive gunshot patients were heavily pregnant women, both of whom lost their babies.
"The women were all shot through the uterus, so that must have been where they were aiming for," he told The Times.
"I can't even begin to tell you how awful it was. Usually, civilians are caught in the crossfire. This is the first time I've ever seen anything like this. This was deliberate. It was hell beyond hell." Nott, who usually works as a vascular surgeon at London's Westminster and Chelsea hospital, has been volunteering as an emergency surgeon in warzones for 20 years, including Bosnia, Libya and the Democratic Republic of Congo.