Syrian government and allies accused of deliberately destroying civilian healthcare
The medical system in eastern Ghouta is near collapse, medics and doctors say, after nearly a week of airstrikes that have reached 22 hospitals and clinics and led to widespread claims that civilian healthcare in the besieged area is being systematically annihilated.
Medics inside Ghouta claimed only three medical facilities remained fully operational and all were overwhelmed with mass casualties that continued to arrive throughout Thursday- the fifth day of a blitz by Russian and Syrian airplanes across the opponent enclave. Medecins Sans Frontieres said 13 hospitals it supported had been destroyed or injury in the past three days alone.
As the damage and death toll from the ten-strikes continued to mount, international organisations that monitor the Syria crisis alleged there was clear evidence that hospitals were purposely targeted.
” The unspeakable agony we are witnessing was intentionally schemed and meticulously implemented over period ,” said Susannah Sirkin, the director of international policy at Physicians for Human Rights, an NGO.” The current situation is the lethal result of a conscious strategy of besiegement, blocking of aid and, ultimately, the illegal demolition of civilian targets with bombs- a tactic the Syrian government and its allies initiated in Aleppo, and are now repeating with brutality in eastern Ghouta .”
Advocacy group the Violations Documentation Centre, which has compiled data on attacks in Syria, said hospitals were being targeted with different munitions to those used elsewhere in Ghouta.” We have observed and documented that the Syrian government targeted the medical phases with directed rockets ,” said Mona Zeineddine, its director of communications.
” This is important to note because the Syrian regime is largely utilizing unguided and improvised bombs, but when it is necessary to hospitals and medical points, guided and directed rockets are used. Also when a particular medical site is hit once, it is then made again when first responders arrive .”
Authorities in Ghouta have also detailed assaults on up to six civil defense centres, which have been used to coordinate rescue tries.” We are being directly targeted by airplane ten-strikes ,” said Abu Saleh al-Ghoutani, an ambulance driver.” Even as we’re rescuing people from under the rubble or driving them to the hospitals we are mercilessly and directly targeted. They wait and see where we’re driving and they bomb us.
” We have 250 documented deaths, and 1,700 injured until Wednesday. The death toll will rise because some are gravely injured .”
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, at least 403 people have been killed and 2,116 injured in eastern Ghouta since Sunday night. On Thursday Russia blocked a ceasefire proposal at the UN security council for the area, describing the widespread reporting of heavy civilian casualties as a product of” mass psychosis “.
One Ghouta doctor, who uses the pseudonym Abu Bakr, said:” We’ve been targeted immediately. It’s an ungodly situation; we weren’t prepared for this brutality. Civilians did not expect such cruelty. Those who aren’t able to reach shelters are exposed to their demises. We’re targeted by barrel bombs and all types of rockets. There is scarcity of food and water. We cannot do our chores properly as well, it’s impossible. Our hands are tied. There is no electricity. We do not know what’s coming in the next few days .”
The sustained air campaign contribute to strident criticism from aid agencies, but has generated little diplomatic momentum despite repeated claims that the two attacks have constituted war crimes.
Dr Ghanem Tayara, the chairman of the Union Of Medical care And Relief Organisations, said:” Even war has rules and their actions violate countless UN resolves. In military combats, even the dead and wounded are allowed to be cleared. The civilians of Ghouta are afforded no such dignity. Their hospitals, schools, food warehouses are destroyed and they are denounced to a slow and painful death.
” Shouldn’t there be an emergency security council fulfilling to resolve this ?,” said Ghoutani.” We’ve had no electricity for four years; children are succumbing , no milk , no food and no water. The shelters that the families and women and children are hiding in are in terrible conditions; they have no floors, or windows.
” We had one’ sugar dealer’ who was a pro-regime man, and a kilogram of sugar expense us 17,000 Syrian pounds[ PS56 ]. We are now resorting to devoting our kids sugary[ fluids] as food .”
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