For Immediate Release
In the following statement, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) responds to AP's interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, attributable to PHR's executive director Donna McKay:
"Today, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continued his outlandish attempt to defend the criminal actions of his own government, lying to the world about his campaign of terror against civilians and medical facilities. President Assad claimed yet again that his forces do not attack hospitals, a position wholly at odds with the facts: since 2011, Physicians for Human Rights has documented 382 attacks on 269 medical facilities – we have verified that 293 of those attacks were carried out by President Assad’s forces. This includes repeated, intentional airstrikes against emergency rooms, maternity clinics, and pediatric hospitals – vile acts. Instead of being protected havens in a time of war, hospitals have become infernos.
"President Assad also disputed the fact that his forces are blocking aid from reaching civilians, particular in the besieged eastern half of Aleppo. Again, this is a position completely divorced from the reality on the ground. Assad’s forces and their allies have routinely stripped medical and food aid from convoys and denied permission for aid trucks to pass into opposition-held areas. In towns like Madaya, children are dying of malnutrition and starvation. Through his lies, President Assad denied his own culpability for their deaths.
"Targeting hospitals, attacking civilians, and intentionally withholding aid to civilians are war crimes. Given their widespread and systematic nature in Syria, they amount to crimes against humanity. President Assad has led his own country into calamity, targeting the innocent and sparking the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Unlike President Assad, we at Physicians for Human Rights and our medical colleagues around the world are committed to facts and telling the truth about what we witness and document. And we will continue to shine a light on Assad’s lies until the sieges are lifted, the bombings of hospitals and civilians end, and he and all those who commit war crimes are held accountable for their actions."
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.