Russian–Syrian hospital bombing campaignWikipedia open wikipedia design.
|Russian-Syrian hospital bombing campaign|
|Part of Syrian Civil War|
|Medical facilities held under FSA territory|
|Several Russian and Syrian warplanes||Anti-aircraft fire|
During the Syrian Civil War, Russian and Syrian government forces have allegedly conducted a campaign that has focused on the destruction of hospitals and medical facilities within areas not under the control of the Syrian government. Russian and Syrian officials have repeatedly denied deliberately targeting medical facilities.
Prior to Russian forces taking an active combat role in the Syrian Civil War, Syrian government forces had previously attacked medical facilities in areas not under their control. Attacks began in early 2012. These attacks included an August 2012 attack, and a November 2012 attack both on the Dar al-Shifa Hospital in Aleppo. United Nations investigators called the attacks systematic. In an effort to refer the Syrian government to the International Criminal Court, the People's Republic of China and Russia blocked an attempted referral in 2014. Physicians for Human Rights estimates that medical facilities were attacked over 300 times between March 2011 and August 2015, with 90% being conducted by Syrian government forces.
Medical facilities attacked by Russian or Syrian forces in Syria
After Russia began military operations in Syria, aerial bombardment intensified. In 2015, there were more than 300 attacks on medical facilities by Syrian and Russian forces. From May to December 2016, medical facilities were attacked about 200 times by Russian and Syrian forces.
Hospitals in Aleppo were attacked multiple times. Before March 2016, more than six hospitals were attacked in the Aleppo Governorate. In April 2016, over two dozen were killed when a Russian airstrike hit a hospital; the hospital served as the area's primary pediatric care facility. In July 2016, M2 Hospital was attacked by aircraft. By the end of the month, six hospitals in Aleppo had been destroyed. In October 2016, M10 Hospital was attacked by airstrikes.
Hospital attacks were not limited to Aleppo. In October 2015, a Russian aircraft attacked a medical facility operated by the Syrian American Medical Society in the town of Sarmin. In February 2016, a children's hospital was hit in Azaz; Russians claimed they targeted ISIL infrastructure. That same month two hospitals in Maarrat al-Nu'man were attacked by Syrian forces, one being a Doctors Without Borders supported facility; Syria claimed that one of the attacks was done by American forces. In July 2016, a hospital was attacked by Russian forces in Atarib. In August 2016, a medical facility was attacked once every 17 hours. One of these attacks was an attack on the last functioning hospital in Darayya; the attack was done with barrel bombs filled with napalm. In April 2017, a hospital was attacked in Maarat al-Nu'man. After a chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun, a clinic treating those who were gassed was attacked by Syrian forces; due to this event U.S. launched a missile strike against Shayrat Air Base.
In September 2017, Qasioun News reported that Syrian government warplanes carried out several airstrikes on Rahma Hospital in Khan Sheikhon city, southern Idlib, causing material damage to the building and causing the hospital to go out of service, as well as injuries among civilians. Furthermore, Syrian government warplanes carried out 3 airstrikes on Orient Hospital, near Kafranabl area, south of Idlib, but no casualties were reported. Also on same date, the Russian warplanes conducted airstrikes on al-Tah Hospital in the countryside of Idlib, killing two nurses and some patients, and inflicting heavy damage to the hospital, as well as causing some injuries among the doctors.
In October 2017, the ICRC said that up to 10 hospitals had been reportedly damaged in the past 10 days, cutting off hundreds of thousands of people from access to healthcare, voicing alarm at the situation from Raqqa to Idlib and eastern Ghouta. "For the past two weeks, we have seen an increasingly worrying spike in military operations that correlates with high levels of civilian casualties," Marianne Gasser, head of the ICRC's delegation in Syria, said.
Attacks on hospitals in Idlib continued into early 2018, following use of chemical weapons against areas controlled by forces opposed to the Syrian government. In April 2018, chemical weapons were used in an attack on a hospital in Douma; the hospital had been supported by the Syrian American Medical Society. Non-Russian and non-Syrian claims were that the chemical attack was carried out by Syrian forces. The Syrian government denied making a chemical attack. Russia denied that chemical weapons were used in Douma; later it claimed that the attack was staged by the United Kingdom. As a result of the attack on Douma, Israeli aircraft attacked an air base in Syria on 9 April; French, British, and American forces attacked targets in Syria on 14 April.
The UN's humanitarian office said that, between late April and June 2019, a total of 24 health facilities and 35 schools had been hit by the Syrian government and Russian air raids and rocket fire on the Idlib region. The coordinates of nine of those health facilities were shared with the UN, which passed them to Russia in an effort to protect them from being bombed and encourage some form of accountability for attacks. Instead, they also came under fire. On 15 May 2019, Syrian government forces bombed the Tarmala Maternity and Children's Hospital in South Idlib, completely destroying the facility, which had served about 6,000 people a month. According to the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, it was the 19th health-care facility bombed in Syria since April 28.
The attacks on hospitals have been described as a "sophisticated strategy" in The Interpreter. In October 2015, the United States Department of State Spokesman John Kirby said that hospitals in Syria were attacked by Russian forces. In February 2016, U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Charles Q. Brown Jr. said that Russia was responsible for attacking hospitals in Syria. In late September 2016, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said attacks on hospitals in Aleppo constituted war crimes. In October 2016, the United States ended direct contact with Russians involved in a campaign against ISIL, to which Russia suspended an agreement it had with the U.S. regarding the reduction of plutonium. In November 2016, then-National Security Advisor Susan Rice issued a warning to Syria and Russia regarding repeated bombings of hospitals. In February 2017, the Atlantic Council issued a report documenting Russian bombings of hospitals during the campaign to take Aleppo, which Russia has denied. The report also documented the use of chemical weapons by forces supporting the Syrian government.
Russia has denied claims that it has targeted hospitals.
In early June 2019, after more than 20 hospitals in Syria’s north-west were targeted, dozens of prominent doctors - include Denis Mukwege, Peter Agre, Sarah Wollaston, Terence English, David Nott, and Zaher Sahloul - called for urgent action to halt the bombing campaign by Syrian and Russian planes, urging the UN to investigate the targeting of listed hospitals and asked the international community to put pressure on Russia and Syria to stop targeting medical centers and reverse funding cuts to surviving hospitals and clinics that were now overwhelmed by refugees. Dr Mohamed Zahid, from Physicians Across Continents, a medical organisation working in Syria, said that doctors working in rebel-held northern Syria will no longer share the locations of medical facilities with the United Nations after doing so failed to stop them being targeted by airstrikes. He said "last year six hospitals were attacked, and this month another eight hospitals were attacked after their coordinates were shared with the UN. So most NGOs in Syria decided to stop this process."
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He also noted that Syria's ambassador to Russia said the hospital was destroyed by the Americans.
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