Aleppo's angel: A nurse's devotion to Syria's children

Story highlights

  • According to doctors, there is an attack on medical facilities every 17 hours in Syria
  • There are just 35 doctors left in the entire city of Aleppo

(CNN)Malaika, a 29-year-old head nurse, holds Ali, a 2-day-old infant, as he struggles to take his final breaths. Born in eastern Aleppo, one of the hardest-hit cities in Syria's five-year civil war, Ali was born with chest issues that forced him to rely on an oxygen pump and an incubator in the neonatal unit at Aleppo Children's Hospital. The hospital is supported by the Independent Doctors Association, a Syrian NGO providing medical services in Aleppo.

At 1:20 p.m.on July 23, a government airstrike scored a direct hit to the hospital. Dust and debris filled the room where 11 babies lay in incubators.
    Several hours later, early July 24, a second airstrike hit. Staff members scrambled to save the infants and rushed them to a safer location in the basement, but Ali -- already weak -- lost his oxygen supply. Malaika and a doctor tried to perform manual CPR on Ali's fragile body but knew there was nothing they could do. Malaika held him as he died, struggling to breathe.

    'It was intentional. It was a war crime.'

    Three more babies died from dust inhalation during the attacks. "I was crying. It was very painful," Malaika said through an interpreter.
    "It was intentional. It was a war crime."
    Malaika no longer has a home to return to at the end of the day.