For Immediate Release
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today confirmed airstrikes against four separate hospitals in Syria on Sunday and Monday of this week. All within 20 miles of one another, the four facilities sustained significant damage after coming under air fire by either Syrian government forces or their Russian allies. PHR continues to condemn the ongoing assault on Syria’s medical personnel and facilities and calls for renewed vigilance on the part of the entire international community to end such crimes.
“As Syrian and Russian forces launch an all-out offensive across northern Syria, these attacks against hospitals will only lead to more suffering, more death, and more destruction,” said PHR research coordinator Elise Baker. “Over and over again, hospitals and emergency rooms are placed in the crosshairs of a conflict that seems endless and unyielding in its cruelty. These four attacks – and the hundreds of other hospital attacks PHR has documented – are war crimes. We at PHR are committed to ensuring that those responsible for these despicable acts are brought to justice.”
On Sunday, a barrage of airstrikes from either Syrian or Russian aircraft hit a hospital in the town of Binnish, east of Idlib city in the country’s northwest. The hospital’s surgery department and ambulances suffered significant damage, and the facility is currently out of service.
On Monday, a hospital in the town of Atarib just 15 miles northeast of Binnish came under aerial attack by Syrian or Russian forces. The building and its ambulance fleet were damaged, and PHR field sources report medical staff were injured and patients and their family members were killed. Shortly afterward, Ansar Hospital in Kafr Naha, just west of Aleppo city, also came under attack by Syrian or Russian aircraft and was put out of service. Patients from these two hospitals were transferred to nearby Baghdad Hospital in Awejel, located less than two miles from Kafr Naha. Just hours later on Monday night, Syrian government or Russian airstrikes hit Baghdad Hospital, significantly damaging the facility and putting it out of service.
The four hospitals put out of service since Sunday together served nearly 15,000 patients each month. “There are now only a few small hospitals remaining in western Aleppo countryside,” Dr. Mohammad (not his real name), a surgeon from Aleppo, told PHR. “People must now go farther to hospitals near the border with Turkey. I am working in a hospital near Aleppo, but we use a code name for it because we are afraid that we will be attacked.”
“As each day passes, the possibility of medical care for embattled Syrians becomes increasingly remote,” said PHR’s Baker. “As long as Syria and Russia continue their scorched earth strategy across the country, there are no safe havens. Meanwhile, the United States has just elected a leader who, rather than condemning Syria and Russia for their blatant violations of international law, has instead shown a willingness to flout international norms and standards himself.”
Since the conflict began in 2011, PHR has documented 382 attacks on 269 separate medical facilities in Syria, as well as the deaths of 757 medical personnel across the country.
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.