Relentless bombardment puts East Aleppo hospitals 'out of service'

Relentless bombardment puts East Aleppo hospitals 'out of service'
Aleppo's health directorate said on Friday that all hospitals in east Aleppo were out of operation amid a renewed bombing campaign of the area that began on Tuesday
4 min read
19 November, 2016

The ability of medical professionals in East Aleppo to care for civilians in the besieged area has been compromised by airstrikes targeting hospitals in the area. 

Late on Friday Aleppo’s health directorate released a statement that said that all hospitals in rebel-held East Aleppo had been rendered out of service following four days of intense airstrikes.

“Due to the systematic attacks that targeted Aleppo city hospitals in the last 48 hours by the Syrian regime and Russian regime air forces, we in Free Aleppo health directorate announce that all hospitals in eastern Aleppo are out of service,” read the statement.

Targeting civilian infrastructures

“This deliberate and inhumane targeting of basic infrastructure and civil facilities is aimed to prevent men, women, children, and elderly people from receiving medical attention while attacking them with all kinds of weapons in the Syrian and Russian armies' arsenal.”

But on Saturday the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that some hospitals in the area — where living conditions are among some of the worst in Syria — remained open, albeit operating at limited capacity with residents too scared to use them due to relentless shelling. 

Speaking to The New Arab from East Aleppo medic Mohammad Abou Rajab said that the humanitarian situation in the area was increasingly desperate. The sound of shelling could be heard in the background over the phone line.

Abou Rajab said that one hospital in East Aleppo remained open but declined to comment on the name or particular location of the medical facility due to concern that it could be targeted.

“There is no excuse for bombing civilian infrastructures like hospitals, which should be known to the warring parties, and yet we see it happening time and again in Syria.
Misty Buswell, Communications Director for the Middle East and Eurasia, Save The Children

“This is one hospital for 250,000 people, the situation is horrific. Supplies, and medicine are running out,” said Abou Rajab explaining that aid organisations had been unable to reach the area since August due to a regime-imposed siege. 

“The international community are watching this situation, the bombs falling every day but they are not doing anything to stop it.”

Hospitals in East Aleppo have been hit on numerous occasions since the Syrian government, backed by Russia, launched an intense renewed assault on the area — where around 250,000 people are said to currently live — in late September. 

The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad views victory in Aleppo as key to winning the war. 

Bombarded into submission

Previously, health and rescue workers have been able to rehabilitate hospitals that have sustained damage as a result of airstrikes. However, a current lack of supplies, coupled with the intensity of current bombardment has made this increasingly difficult. 

Air campaigns over East Aleppo resumed on Tuesday following a Russian humanitarian pause in the city during which civilians living in the area were warned to leave via a number of “safe corridors” or stay and face further bombardment by “strategic attack using high precision/advanced weapons”.

Text messages sent by one of Syria’s state telecom providers to residents of East Aleppo at the time included statements claiming that the Syrian opposition leadership was little concerned with the wellbeing of those in the besieged district.

Translation: To the gunmen of East Aleppo, the opposition 
(leadership) in hotels and castles do not care about the lives
of poor Syrian citizens in the neighbourhoods of East Aleppo
[Screengrab from Twitter]

Speaking from East Aleppo Abou Rajab said that people had not been willing to leave East Aleppo because of fear and a lack of trust in the Syrian regime.“The opposition (leadership) in hotels and castles do not care about the lives of poor Syrian citizens in the neighbourhoods of East Aleppo,” read one message.

“Many would rather die here then leave,” said Abou Rajab. Hundreds have died in East Aleppo since Tuesday amid renewed bombardment.

Earlier this week Syrian state media claimed that the Syrian air force was targeting “terrorist strongholds and supply depots” in East Aleppo, while Russia has claimed that its air force is not conducting airstrikes on the city despite mounting evidence. 

Monitoring groups hold the Syrian regime responsible for more civilian deaths than any other combatant force involved in the conflict, while attacks targeting civilian infrastructures such as hospitals and schools have become a disturbing feature of Syria’s Civil War with combatant forces often acting with impunity.

Speaking to The New Arab earlier this week, Misty Buswell, Save The Children’s Media and Communications Director for the Middle East and Eurasia, said that there was “no excuse” for attacks targeting hospitals and schools. 

“There is no excuse for bombing a school or other civilian infrastructure like hospitals, which should be known to the warring parties, and yet we see it happening time and again in Syria. As the violence has re-escalated this week, we have seen at least 5 more hospitals bombed, including a children’s hospital in Aleppo, and schools across the country have had to shut for fear of being attacked.”

Agencies contributed to this report