Surgeons operate on an injured Syrian refugee at the Al Rahma hospital in Arsal, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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Before the war in Syria, Dr. Bassem al-Faris straightened teeth for a living. After his orthodontic clinic in the outskirts of Damascus was looted and burned, however, Faris set aside perfecting smiles to save the lives of the sick and injured. The hospital, which cost some $500,000 to build and outfit, was opened less than a month ago, but already some 130 patients pass through its doors daily.Three surgeons, a gynecologist and a pediatrician are on staff at the hospital, tending both to gravely wounded and sniffling patients. A staff of 25 works at Al-Rahma, but Faris hopes to expand. Faris manages the pharmacy and the hospital's administrative duties, occasionally helping treat maxillofacial injuries. The hospital's opening coincided with mounting hostilities in Syria's Yabroud, barely 30 kilometers away. Faris, like others, is worried that the front lines of the Syrian conflict are encroaching ever closer to Arsal.To date, Faris said, eight residents of Arsal, including five Lebanese children, have been killed by Syrian missiles.When patients arrive from Syria in the middle of the night, attending nurses often call Faris for direction.
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