Recent airstrikes on hospitals in Syria's Idlib province reveal a devastating trend of increased targeting of health facilities in the Syrian war, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) warned today, denouncing the attacks and calling on parties to the conflict to respect hospital grounds and civilians.
Airstrikes hit or landed near nine hospitals in Idlib province from August 7 to 10, including three hospitals supported by MSF. Eleven people were killed in the strikes, including three hospital staff members and one patient. At least 31 people were wounded, including seven hospital staff members and six patients.“These recent attacks are a clear violation of international humanitarian law, which prohibits military attacks on hospitals,” said Sylvain Groulx, MSF head of mission for Syria. “Airstrikes are capable of targeting specific buildings and these hospitals are known locations. They must be respected as neutral spaces where civilians can safely access their right to health care services.”
A dialysis center serving an area with 30,000 people remains closed as a result of the airstrikes, and patients must now travel close to 70 kilometers, or 43 miles, in an insecure environment to access treatment. Services in other hospitals were also affected, including surgery, orthopedics and physiotherapy. Two ambulances, a generator and a laboratory were destroyed by the strikes, and another three ambulances were damaged.
Similar attacks on civilian infrastructure, including many health facilities, have taken place in recent months in many provinces where government forces are no longer in control.
“Civilians continue to suffer the daily brunt of this war with a massive number of deaths and injuries,” Groulx said.
MSF operates five medical facilities inside Syria and supports more than 100 hospitals and clinics in Syria. It is also working with Syrian refugees who have fled to Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon.