Russia's bombing of Ukraine maternity hospital is a reminder of the horrors Moscow unleashed on Syria

Russia's bombing of Ukraine maternity hospital is a reminder of the horrors Moscow unleashed on Syria
Russian forces are using the same military tactics they honed in Syria during their brutal campaign in Ukraine hitting bakeries and hospitals.
3 min read
10 March, 2022
Moscow's troops destroyed dozens of hospitals and other critical civilian infrastructure in Syria, and they appear to be repeating their tactics in Ukraine. (Getty Images)

The horrific Russian bombing of a Ukrainian maternity hospital is reminiscent of the bloody war Moscow has waged in Syria since 2015, activists have said.

The strike on the clinic in the besieged city of Mariupol killed three people, including one child, with 17 injured, leading to an outpouring of anger over Russia's blatant targeting of civilian infrastructure.

 Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the bombing an "atrocity" and a "war crime" and appealed to NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

"How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror? Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity," he tweeted.

Russia has targeted other hospitals, homes, and bakeries during its two-week bombing campaign of Ukraine.

It has also besieged cities such as Mariupol, leading to conditions described as "apocalyptic" by the UN.

This targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure is similar to the military tactics it has deployed in Syria, where it has been backing Bashar Al-Assad's regime since 2015.

Moscow has flattened dozens of Syrian towns and villages in its blitz of opposition areas, specifically targeting civilian infrastructure like schools and hospitals.

The Russian air force bombed four hospitals in a period of four hours in opposition areas, a New York Times investigation in May 2019 revealed.

Physicians for Human Rights, which tracks attacks on medical workers in Syria, said that they had documented at least 266 such attacks since Russia intervened in Syria in 2015.

They estimate at least 916 medical workers have been killed since 2011 when the Assad regime brutally put down pro-democracy protests leading to a widespread uprising.

Raed Al-Saleh, head of the White Helmets, advised Ukrainians not to reveal the coordinates of hospitals to the UN nor involve Russia in humanitarian efforts as such facilities will be likely targeted by Moscow in its bombing campaign.

"Do not give GPS locations of medical facilities to the United Nations, which may claim it needs the information to keep them safe," he wrote in The Washington Post.

"The Russians will use that information to target them. Never let Moscow have any say or control over how humanitarian aid is distributed, even when it's a U.N. program. The Kremlin will use that power to starve out civilian populations, as it is doing in Syria now."

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Dozens of hospitals, schools, bakeries, and other civilian infrastructure were targeted across Syria by Russian and regime forces, in an attempt to make opposition towns and cities uninhabitable.

The same scenario appears to be playing out in Ukraine, where Russian bombardments appear aimed as wiping out urban areas.  

Last week, The New Arab reported that the cluster bombs and other internationally-banned weapons used in Syria were not being deployed in Ukraine.

The war in Syria has seen over 500,000 people killed, mostly civilians, as a result of brutal attacks by the regime and its Russian allies on towns and cities.

In 2018, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres described the residents of a besieged Damascus opposition suburb as living in "hell on earth".

Eastern Ghouta was later captured by the Syrian regime, with the help of brutal Russian bombing and chemical weapons.