BAGHDAD, Iraq – Ailing Iraqis waited behind concertina wire at an abandoned schoolhouse Saturday in the capital's Shiite stronghold of Sadr City where U.S. Army medics had set up a surprise medical clinic.
A child whose legs were stiff with disease hobbled toward U.S. Army medics. Another man held his head where a gash swelled with infection, according to AP Television News footage.
The ad-hoc clinic was part of a growing military outreach under the month-old Baghdad security plan. In most cases, such clinics close within hours, to avoid attacks.
In Sadr City, medical services historically were provided by Shiite militias such as the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's powerful Mahdi Army. The military hopes providing treatment themselves will turn support in U.S. favor.
The man seeking treatment for the infected gash to his forehead said he came for American help because it had become too hard to get quality treatment in Baghdad.
Since the war began, medications had become almost impossible to find, he said.
"If we go to an Iraqi hospital, we don't get the medicines we need," he said. "We come here so maybe we can get some help."