21 Attacks on Medical Facilities by Syrian Regime Forces in Eastern Ghouta
SNHR has released its monthly special report that documents violations against medical personnel, civil defense personnel, and their respective facilities by the parties to the conflict in Syria.
The report stresses that saving the wounded is branded now as a dangerous profession that might lead to death, in light of the blatant international humanitarian law violations that affect medical facilities and their workers.
According to the report, the Syrian regime has perpetrated the majority of crimes against medical personnel and their medical facilities, as its forces have raided hospitals and abducted some of the wounded, and targeted hospitals and medical points using shells, missiles, and barrel bombs, while their forces have bombed civil defense facilities and international humanitarian insignia repeatedly, killing many of their personnel.
The report notes that the rest of the parties to the conflict have perpetrated similar violations but to less extents and at smaller rates. ISIS members raided makeshift hospitals and dispensaries and abducted some of the wounded, doctors, and paramedics. Also, ISIS barred some doctors from practicing as per their discriminative laws while the Coalition forces (international coalition and SDF) have targeted a number of hospitals and medical points.
Fadel Abdul Ghany, chairman of SNHR, says:
“Attacks on medical and civil defense centers as well as medical and civil defense personnel are considered a blatant violation of the international humanitarian law and constitute war crimes given the indiscriminate, and in many cases, deliberate, targeting of protected objects. All of this have only deepened the suffering of the wounded and injured and is one of the main reasons behind the displacement of the Syrian people as it sends a very clear message: there is no safe area, or a red line, including hospitals, you either flee or perish.”
The report draws upon daily documentation and monitoring, and on accounts from survivors, eyewitnesses, and local media activists, as the report contains three accounts that were collected by speaking directly to eyewitnesses and not cited from any open sources, in addition to analyzing a large number of pictures and videos that were posted online or sent by local activists according to the report.
The report notes that February saw an unprecedented rise, since the Cessation of Hostilities agreements went into effect in February 2016, with respect to Syrian regime forces’ and their allies’ attacks on medical facilities and their personnel. This month’s attacks were concentrated in de-escalation zones – most primarily Eastern Ghouta, Damascus suburbs that recorded the killing of 82% of all medical, civil defense, and Red Crescent personnel killed by the Syrian regime in February -a total of 16- as the Syrian regime topped all parties in terms of killing, while Russian forces were the second-most party to kill medical and civil defense personnel in February with six who were all killed in Idlib governorate.
The report documents the killing of 28 medical, civil defense, and Red Crescent personnel in February at the hands of Syrian regime forces, Russian forces, international coalition forces, and other parties.
The report breaks down the victims, as Syrian regime forces killed four nurses, including women, three civil defense personnel, six medical personnel, two paramedics, and one Red Crescent personnel, while Russian forces killed one paramedic and civil defense personnel. In addition, international coalition forces killed one paramedic and three nurses, including one woman, while one doctor and one paramedic, the report records, were killed by other parties.
Moreover, the report documents 59 attacks on vital medical facilities, civil defense facilities, and Red Crescent facilities, including 33 by Syrian regime forces – 21 on medical facilities, nine on civil defense facilities, one on an ambulance, and two on facilities for the Red Crescent. Additionally, the report records 23 attacks by Russian forces, including 11 attacks that targeted medical facilities, in addition to seven attacks that targeted ambulances and five attacks that targeted civil defense facilities.
The report also records one attack by international coalition forces that targeted one medical facility, while the report records two attacks by other parties who targeted a medical facility in one attack while the other attack targeted an ambulance.
The report stresses that the attacks constitute a violations of Security Council resolutions 2139 and 2254 which state that indiscriminate attacks must be ceased. Also, the crime of willful killing constitutes a violation of Article 7 and 8 of Rome Statute, which qualify as war crimes
The report adds that the attacks mentioned in this report constitute violations of Security Council resolution 2286 which states that attacks and threats against the wounded and sick, medical personnel and humanitarian personnel exclusively engaged in medical duties, their means of transport and equipment should be ceased, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities.
The report calls on the Security Council to take additional steps after resolutions 2139 and 2254 have been adopted. Also, the report stresses that the Syrian case should be referred to the International Criminal Court and all those who were involved should be held accountable, including the Russian regime whose involvement in war crimes has been proven.
In addition, the report calls for the implementation of the “Responsibility to Protect (R2P)” norm, especially after all political channels have been consumed through all agreements, as well as Cessation of Hostilities statements and Astana agreements. The report stresses that action should be taken under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, and the “Responsibility to Protect” norm, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly, should be implemented.
The report calls on the European Union and the United States of America to support the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism that was established in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 71/248, adopted on December 21, 2016. And establish local tribunals that enjoy a universal jurisdiction, and address the war crimes that were perpetrated in Syria.
Also, the report calls on the Commission of Inquiry (COI) and the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) to launch investigations on the incidents included in this report and past reports. The report stresses that SNHR is willing to cooperate and provide more evidences and data.
Additionally, the report calls on the Russian regime and international coalition forces to launch investigations in the incidents included in the report, made the findings of these investigations public to the Syrian people, and hold all who were involved accountable.
Further, the report calls on the SDF-supporting states to apply pressure on these forces in order to compel them to cease all of their violations in all the areas and towns that are under their control. And cease all forms of support, including weapons.