With public hospitals inaccessible to anyone suspected of participating in Syria's uprising, field hospitals are many Syrians' only hope of medical care.
Reporting for Al Jazeera from Syria's northern province of Idlib, Anita McNaught followed activists as they smuggled supplies for makeshift hospitals across the Turkish border into the restive province. "Clinics provide the only safe access to medical care for people in these resistance towns," she says.
McNaught traveled to the town of Salmin, where activists say the Syrian army destroyed and burned a clinic on March 22. Troops are said to have destroyed and looted every single pharmacy in the city.
The Syrian security apparatus reportedly has targeted medical care facilities for months, arresting patients who are suspected of belonging to the opposition.
In September 2011, Human Rights Watch accused Syrian security forces of "forcibly removing" patients from the al-Barr hospital in Homs and preventing doctors from reaching the wounded.
"When we tried to help the wounded who needed urgent medical care, the security forces pushed us back, saying these were criminals and rapists," a doctor told HRW. "They were beating the wounded as they moved them out of the hospital."
Based on dozens of interviews with Syrians who had been injured in the uprising, the international organization Doctors Without Borders, too, concluded that for the Assad regime, medicine has become a weapon of persecution. "In Syria today, wounded patients and doctors are pursued, and risk torture and arrest at the hands of the security services," said president of DWB Marie-Pierre Allié in February 2012.
According to Doctors Without Borders, the Syrian government is also specifically targeting doctors who aid anti-regime protesters and fighters. A Syrian physician told the organization that many doctors who treated wounded patients in their private hospitals had been arrested and tortured. "We are constantly being pursued by the security forces," he said.
"Some of our friends were killed in cold blood," Dr. Suleiman, a member of the Free Syrian Doctors Movement, echoed when talking to Al Jazeera. The movement is an association of medical professionals who treat wounded members of the opposition. "We must help our people," Dr. Suleiman said. "No matter what side."
Al Jazeera reports four doctors of the Free Syrian Doctors Movement are believed to have been killed, 25 imprisoned and hundreds more arrested.
The United Nations estimates more than 9,000 people have been killed since the start of the protests against the Assad regime in March 2011.