In mid-September 2017, Syrian government forces or their Russian allies launched at least five aerial attacks on three of the main hospitals in Syria’s Idlib governorate, which at the time was part of the so-called de-escalation zones.
Of the five attacks PHR verified at the time in Idlib governorate, three took place on the same day. On September 19, airstrikes hit Kafr Nabl Surgical Hospital in Kafr Nabl, destroying an ambulance and damaging the facility’s emergency ward; al Rahman Children and Maternity Hospital in al Tah, where one hospital staffer was killed; and al Rahma hospital in Khan Sheikhoun, a facility built into a cave that already had been attacked in April, 2017, following a chemical weapons strike in the same town.
”I was there at the hospital,” Hazem, a nurse at the al Rahma facility who asked we not use his last name, told PHR researchers. “We were very busy as we were treating the injured from strikes on the city, and there were two patients in the operating room. We continued working despite the airstrike, we did not leave until we had finished our work.” Three days later, in the early hours of September 22, the hospital again came under bombardment, causing structural damage and forcing the facility to close. The staff narrowly escaped with their lives.
Imagery of Kafr Nabl Surgical Hospital reviewed and verified by PHR, as well as testimony from eyewitnesses, confirmed extensive damage from the September 19 2017 strike, which forced the hospital to temporarily suspend services. Early on the morning of September 26, 2017, that same facility was struck again by multiple airstrikes. One of the missiles directly hit the hospital, breaking through three floors and forcing the hospital to halt services indefinitely.