AMMAN, JORDAN, FEB. 9 -- The allied forces may be waging high-tech warfare against Iraq, but medical care there has returned to the Middle Ages, with surgeons performing operations by candlelight, and at least one victim of an air attack having to be carried to a hospital on horseback.

Limbs of some patients had to be amputated without benefit of painkillers.

"I think we were in the 14th century. It is very gloomy over there," said Dr. Rizk Jaber Abu Kashef, a Palestinian surgeon who spent two weeks at Baghdad's Red Crescent Hospital and toured five other medical facilities there.

"When an air raid comes, they switch off the generators and someone holds a candle or a flashlight {next} to your hand," said the doctor, one of 30 Jordanian, Palestinian, Tunisian and Algerian volunteers who traveled overland to Iraq after allied air strikes began there on Jan. 17. "You need to continue your operation. You cannot tell the patient to go to sleep until the attack is over."

Abu Kashef said one doctor broke his leg when he tripped while climbing the stairs in the dark at the Red Crescent Hospital. Another was injured, he said, when their convoy was strafed by an allied warplane on the highway from Baghdad to the Jordanian border -- despite the fact that cars in the convoy were marked with symbols of the United Nations, the Red Cross and its Muslim counterpart, the Red Crescent.

Power cuts, fuel and water shortages, a lack of blood for transfusions and a dearth of life-saving antibiotics and painkillers have reduced medical care in Iraq to primitive standards, compelling doctors to concentrate on rudimentary first aid and resort to hasty, unorthodox procedures.

Doctors reportedly do not have adequate supplies of water to scrub before operations or to clean operating rooms. Hospital hygiene is on the decline, and mortality rates have climbed from 6 percent to 20 percent of emergency patients, Abu Kashef said, "not only due to injuries but because of hygiene and hospital infections."

Abu Kashef's most gripping recollection was the case of a 6-year-old Bedouin boy whose family of 12, the doctor said, was "wiped out" when weapons carried by allied warplanes allegedly hit their settlement.

"He had shrapnel in his thigh, and we amputated it. Relatives brought him on horseback. He arrived so late, it {his leg} was gangrenous."

Western journalists coming out of Baghdad spoke of encounters with an increasingly demoralized and angry population beginning to question the original cause of the war and Iraq's leadership.

Richard Beeston of the Times of London said he has seen increasing signs of armored units redeploying "wherever there is a handy place" -- under trees and in unobtrusive hideouts, some of which are near population centers. Beeston said that this tactic would probably add to allied confusion about what is a civilian or military target.

Since some of these areas are close to villages, "in the future it is going to get cloudy. I saw two tank squadrons and an ammunition dump about eight kilometers {five miles} from Baghdad."

One Iraqi man in his forties told a Western journalist in the privacy of a home in Baghdad: "This is not our war, this is Saddam's. He has taken our country back 40 years," the man said, referring to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

An Iraqi woman married to a former army colonel told reporters in the Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad that "morale is very bad. Everyone is criticizing Saddam, even in the {ruling} Baath Party." Some Western journalists reported seeing graffiti scribbled on the walls in one shopping district saying, "Down with Saddam."

"Iraqis feel this war is their fate, but they have no alternative to patience. What can they do?" Abu Kashef said.

Baghdad resident Hassan Bayati told television journalists there of the allied air raids, "Yes they are trying to eliminate him {Saddam}," but "our leaders don't like to succumb." Asked if the population was frightened, Bayati answered: "Well you may say yes, but {they are} rather angry than frightened. Once you are in the problem, the crisis, you are frightened. But once it is over, you are very angry."

Comparing the current war with the eight-year war Iraq fought against Iran, Bayati said: "There is a lot of difference. We had the mastery of the air at that time. Once every two or three months, an Iranian plane came to hit military installations, not civilians. When they {Iranians} started shooting with rockets, every 10 days or 20 days, a rocket hit part of Baghdad. So people got used to it," Bayati recalled.

"Nowadays it is something different. They don't give you time to breathe. The siren goes on and off, on and off, all night long. No one can sleep, and in the morning we hear 10 people were killed in that quarter, or 20," he added. "They are not soldiers, and they have nothing to do with the fighting. They are just mere inhabitants of Baghdad."

Abu Kashef estimated that with the money spent on a single cruise missile he could buy enough blood bags, drugs and other medical supplies to "save more than a thousand patients."

The doctor said he had no kits to determine the blood groups of patients hemorrhaging on the operating table, and he was sometimes forced to take blood transfusions from one patient to another without matching the groups.

"You don't know what to do. You want to save a life. If the risk of death from blood incompatibility is 10 percent, the risk of giving no blood at all is 100 percent," he explained.

Iran sent 16 tons of medicine to Iraq today under supervision of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Iran's official news agency reported.

Abu Kashef said conditions in hospitals outside Baghdad are even worse because of gasoline shortages. But even in the capital, hospitals are running out of film for X-rays, which can cut down the time needed for surgery. "You get someone with a shrapnel wound. The X-ray machine is available, but there is no film. So you have to operate and explore the abdomen," he said.

Hassan Abdul Razzak, a technician at the Military Hospital in the southern port city of Basra, told journalists: "If we are defeated, it will be our end."

Abu Kashef keeps an upbeat attitude despite all of the destruction and human suffering around him. "Suppose you have 10,000 injured. It is still less than 1 percent of Baghdad's population," which is 4 million. "So life will continue. We adapt."

"There is no clean war. War is always dirty from the time you {approve} the decision," he remarked. Abu Kashef said he plans to return to Baghdad next Tuesday.