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Syrian Doctors appeal to President Barack Obama to End Bombings, Sieges in Aleppo

While commending Russia's willingness to consider a three-hour pause in military action in Aleppo, the U.S. supports the U.N.'s call for a long-term cease-fire

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FILE - A medic inspects the damage inside Anadan Hospital, sponsored by Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, after it was hit by an airstrike in the rebel-held city of Anadan, northern Aleppo province, Syria, July 31, 2016.

August 11, 2016: Aleppo, the second-largest city in Syria, where the civil war broke out in the county five years ago and remains caught in the battle for control between rebels and pro-government forces. As the fighting has included numerous attacks on medical facilities, a group of Syrian doctors sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama describing the devastation and pleading for action to stop attacks against civilians. The doctors are quite afraid that the attack on medical facilities will wipe out medical services in Aleppo in a month if they continue at the same rate.

“What pains us most, as doctors, is choosing who will live and who will die. Young children are sometimes brought into our emergency rooms so badly injured that we have to prioritise those with better chances, or simply don’t have the equipment to help them.”

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said attacks against civilians must stop.

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“The United States has repeatedly condemned the indiscriminate bombing of medical facilities by the Assad regime in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria. The attacks, I think, as illustrated in this letter are appalling. They must cease,” Trudeau said Thursday during the daily briefing.

Sieges in Aleppo left many people in need of food and medical aid. The United Nations has tried coordinated deliveries but has been hindered by ongoing violence.

FILE – In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian citizens and firefighters gather where a rocket hit the Dubeet hospital in the central neighbourhood of Muhafaza in Aleppo, Syria, May 3, 2016.

The U.S. is working with the U.N. and others, including Russia, to “find a diplomatic approach to reducing the violence in a sustainable way, and allow unimpeded lifesaving humanitarian access into places like Aleppo,” according to Trudeau.

While commending Russia’s willingness to consider a three-hour pause in military action in Aleppo, the U.S. supports the U.N.’s call for a long-term cease-fire.

“Any pause is good, anything that cuts the violence,” said Trudeau, adding “the U.N. has come out and they’ve said that the three hours are not enough” and Washington supports the U.N. on this.

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Attempts at U.N.-led peace talks, which included efforts by the United States and Russia to coordinate Syria’s warring sides, have also been unsuccessful.

“For five years, we have face death from above on a daily basis. But now we face death from all around,” the doctors wrote. “For five years, the world has stood by and remarked how ‘complicated’ Syria is while doing little to protect us.”

The doctors said they do not need tears, sympathy or prayers, but to be free from bombings and international action to prevent any future sieges. (VOA)

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Syria Uses Familiar Tactic in Rebel Idlib: Bombing Civilians

The United Nations is demanding an immediate end to indiscriminate attacks against civilians

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Syria, Rebel, Idlib
FILE - Destruction is seen around the Udai hospital following airstrikes on the town of Saraqeb in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, Jan. 29, 2018. VOA

The United Nations is demanding an immediate end to indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure in northwest Syria, warning the warring parties their actions might amount to war crimes.

U.N. agencies say an intense military escalation by Russian-backed Syrian forces and armed rebels in northwest Syria is having a catastrophic impact on the civilian population. Agencies confirm at least 160 civilians have been killed and hundreds more wounded in fighting over recent weeks.

They say 3 million people in Idlib need protection and 300,000 civilians who have fled their homes in the past two months are in imminent danger.

 

Spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Jens Laerke says civilians and civilian infrastructure are coming under daily attack by airstrikes, artillery shelling and barrel bombs.

Syria, Rebel, Idlib
FILE – Damage is seen at a hospital after an airstrike in Deir al-Sharqi village in Idlib province, Syria, April 27 2017. VOA

“Since the 28th of April, there have been 25 confirmed attacks on health care in the northwest, including on 24 health facilities and one ambulance,” he said. “Two of the attacked health facilities were hit more than once, and at least six health workers have been killed.”

Laerke says health care facilities are fully protected under international humanitarian law, and it is illegal to target them. Few health facilities remain intact to care for the sick and wounded, he told VOA.

“Already before the recent months of escalation, the status of health care in Syria at large, and in particular in Idlib, was already appalling,” he said. “Even though those facilities have not been hit, they fear that they may be hit. So, the doctors, the health care personnel are leaving, the patients are not going to those hospitals. Understandably.”

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Laerke says aid agencies are providing food and health services through mobile clinics to people who are newly displaced in northwest Syria. In addition, many schools in the region have been attacked, he says, so catch-up classes are being provided for thousands of children who have been out of school since May. (VOA)