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As Fighting Intensifies, Daraa Civilians and Hospitals Must be Spared

For Immediate Release

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is deeply concerned by the news of yet more indiscriminate attacks on health care sites in Syria. In less than a week, PHR has received credible reports of large-scale airstrikes on at least six hospitals in Daraa in the south of the country, including al-Giza Hospital’s emergency department, which was completely destroyed after being targeted six times.

Homer Venters, MD, PHR’s director of programs, said the attacks are continuing with impunity, with catastrophic consequences. We have seen unrelenting bloodshed and a pattern of targeted, deliberate, and cruel attacks on civilians, medical personnel, hospitals, and other health facilities since the start of this conflict. This is taking place against a backdrop of multiple failed attempts by the international community to impose a ceasefire in Syria. As a result, civilians are prevented from getting the medical assistance which they so sorely need,” Venters said.

“PHR has documented attacks on health care since the start of the Syria conflict and continues to be gravely concerned about dramatic increases in attacks on civilian health. Ironically, many such attacks happen in so-called de-escalation zones, which is a clear indication of the warring parties’ complete disregard for humanitarian norms and for international law. These attacks on hospitals threaten the lives of thousands of wounded and sick – who already suffer from limited access to shelter, water, and food – and deprive them of essential and life-saving medical care,” Venters added. 

PHR reiterates its urgent call for all parties to the conflict to respect international laws and the core value of medical neutrality, and to refrain from attacking civilians and civilian infrastructure such as medical sites.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.