For Immediate Release
A doctor at one hospital near Idlib, in northern Syria, reported that his hospital treated 40 wounded patients over three hours as a result of the U.S.-led air strikes early Tuesday morning. The doctor told Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) that 10 civilians, including several children between the ages of two and 10 years, were among those killed, as was a woman who was nine months pregnant. Hospital staff reported being unable to treat everyone, and having to send some serious cases across the border to Turkey.
“What we really need is for hospitals not to be targeted; we need a safe zone for our families,” the doctor, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons, told PHR. “Before, we were afraid of car bombs and [Bashar al-]Assad’s planes, but now we are afraid of Assad’s planes by day and America’s planes at night.”
The media reported that anywhere from eight to as many as two dozen civilians were killed in the strike.
PHR said it was concerned about the impact additional bombings will have on the civilian population and the already extremely fragile public health system. Hospitals and medical personnel have been consistently targeted in the Syrian conflict, predominantly by government forces. PHR recently released data on the attacks – which violate the Geneva Conventions – through the end of August:
- Medical personnel
In August, PHR documented the deaths of 21 medical personnel, of which 16 were targeted killings, including two who were tortured to death and two who were executed. Twenty were killed by government forces, and one was killed by the self-declared Islamic State (IS), also called ISIS or ISIL. In total, PHR has documented the deaths of 561 medical personnel since the start of the conflict, of which 252 (44.9 percent) were targeted killings. 553 deaths were caused by government forces and eight by non-state armed groups. Rif Dimashq governorate continues to have the highest number of medical personnel killed, with 103. PHR has profiled several Syrian doctors who have discussed the persecution they face for their work.
- Medical facilities
In August, PHR documented nine new attacks on medical facilities, all of which were committed by government forces. Three were in Aleppo governorate, two in Daraa, two in Idlib, one in Raqqa, and one in Rif Dimashq. Two of the attacks were on facilities that have previously been attacked. In total, PHR has documented 195 attacks on 155 separate medical facilities since the start of the conflict. Of these, 176 (90 percent) were committed by government forces, 13 by non-state armed groups (7 percent), and six by unknown forces (3 percent). Aleppo governorate continues to have the highest number of attacks, with 55 total.
Sources also told PHR that the Syrian government on Wednesday attacked Adra, a city northeast of Damascus, with what appears to be chlorine gas, killing seven people. Although chlorine gas is technically not categorized as a banned chemical weapon, it is illegal to use it to harm or kill others. When Syria turned over its chemical weapons and signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, it also agreed not to use chlorine gas as a weapon.
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.