Syria regime responsible for vast majority of medical-worker casualties
Bashar al-Assad's regime and its allies have been responsible for 85 percent of the Syrian civil war's medical personnel casualties throughout the almost six years of the bloody conflict, an independent monitor has said.
The Syrian Network for Human Rights [SNHR] said on Monday that the Syrian army, including loyalist militias, and Russian forces have killed 632 medical staff out of a total of 737 deaths since March 2011.
The SNHR said that extremist groups such as the Islamic State group and former al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Fateh al-Sham were responsible 40 deaths and that rebel groups were responsible for 27.
The monitor explained that the number of victims was likely much higher because of difficulties in collecting information on casualties.
Amnesty International last year said that Russian and Syrian government forces were targeting hospitals and other medical facilities to pave the way for ground forces to advance on the city of Aleppo.
"Syrian and Russian forces have been deliberately attacking health facilities in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. But what is truly egregious is that wiping out hospitals appears to have become part of their military strategy," Tirana Hassan, Crisis Response Director at Amnesty International, said at the time.
Last year, UN investigators warned that attacks on medical facilities in Syria and the deaths of so many medical professionals had made access to health care in the violence-wracked country extremely difficult - and in some areas completely impossible.
Since March 2011, Syria's brutal conflict has left more than 310,000 people dead and forced half the population to flee their homes.
War broke out after the Assad regime unleashed a brutal crackdown against protesters demanding political change in Arab Spring-inspired protests.
It has since become a multi-front war between regime forces, militants and other groups - with the civilian population caught in the crossfire.