New Barrage of Barrel Bombs on Health Facilities in Syria


BUSRA/ALEPPO, SYRIA, JUNE 18, 2015—A hospital in Syria’s Dara’a Governorate was destroyed Monday night after being struck by ten barrel bombs, one of ten medical facilities in Syria targeted over the past month, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said today.  

Busra Hospital was the only health facility providing neonatal and dialysis services in Dara’a and will now be closed indefinitely because of the severity of the bombing damage.

“They targeted the building at about 11:00 p.m. with four barrels that broke doors and windows,” said one of the doctors at the hospital. “When we arrived we heard the helicopters still flying around and we evacuated the medical team and the patients. After an hour, they dropped six more bombs that destroyed half the medical equipment and seriously damaged the building.”

The aggression followed another attack on June 10 on a hospital supported by MSF in Aleppo Governorate in northern Syria. A barrel bomb exploded just outside the medical center, damaging medical equipment, the pharmacy, and all the windows and doors. The hospital's post-operative room is out of service.

“Once again, we call on the warring parties to respect civilians, health facilities, and medical staff, according to international humanitarian law,” said Carlos Francisco, MSF head of mission for Syria. “These new attacks on medical infrastructures are unacceptable.”

The intensity and frequency of attacks against medical facilities in Aleppo is increasing. MSF has received reports of attacks on nine health structures since May 2015. Among them, six hospitals were hit, representing 40 percent of the hospitals currently operating in East Aleppo.

''Hospitals are the main target, but recently, ambulances have also been attacked with missiles," said one of the doctors working at the MSF-supported hospital in Aleppo.

The attack in Aleppo was the third suffered by the hospital over the past year, and was the heaviest and most damaging, according to hospital staff.

''The medical team was in the hospital and one of the doctors was injured,” said one of the doctors. “The staff keeps working, even after this attack. It is normal to feel fear, but we are committed to continuing our work. As medical staff in Aleppo, we feel disappointed because the world is watching us without intervening to protect us. We need protection from these attacks. The situation is very hard and painful.”

Barrel bomb attacks in Aleppo have damaged and destroyed medical equipment, drug warehouses, and generators, temporarily and permanently closing health facilities and reducing healthcare options.  Medical personnel are fleeing and many drugs are not available.

''There is a lack of medical human resources because the majority of doctors are going to the countryside or to Turkey, said Francisco. “If attacks continue, I expect most medical staff will leave.”

MSF operates seven medical facilities inside Syria and directly supports more than 100 clinics, health posts, and field hospitals. MSF is also working with patients from Syria who have fled to Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq.

The intensity and number of attacks against medical facilities in Syria is increasing. Busra hospital, in Dara’a governorate, in the South, was destroyed after being hit by ten barrel bombs on Monday night. It is one of ten medical facilities that have been targeted in the past month. Busra hospital was the only health facility providing neonatal and dialysis services in Dara’a.