Airstrikes force hospitals to shut down in rebel-held Aleppo

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Injured boys react at a field hospital after airstrikes on the rebel held areas of Aleppo, Syria November 18, 2016. Photo By Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters

Injured boys react at a field hospital after airstrikes on the rebel held areas of Aleppo, Syria November 18, 2016. Photo By Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters

An onslaught of airstrikes this week on Syria’s war-gripped city of Aleppo forced the closure of most of the hospitals and left only a handful partially functioning in rebel-held territory where thousands of civilians are trapped amid a five-year civil war.

Since the siege on Aleppo started in September, government forces and their backers have frequently targeted hospitals from the air. Russia, an ally of the Syrian government, this week denied accusations that it had participated in the hospital attacks.

At least 150 civilians were killed by the airstrikes, including more than a dozen children, according to the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that every one of the city’s hospitals in eastern Aleppo have been closed this weekend, though some war monitoring and aid groups indicated some medical facilities may still be open. One WHO representative told Reuters “all hospitals in eastern Aleppo are out of service.”

“This destruction of infrastructure essential to life leaves the besieged, resolute people, including all children and elderly men and women, without any health facilities offering life-saving treatment … leaving them to die,” the director of several hospitals said in a statement.

On Wednesday, the WHO condemned “massive attacks” on five Aleppo hospitals that took place over three days earlier this week, and the Associated Press reported that four hospitals were targeted by the Syrian government and their allies on Friday.

“Such attacks on health in Syria are increasing in both frequency and scale,” a WHO statement said.

The U.S. on Saturday said the attacks on medical facilities and aid workers should end and demanded Russia do more to ebb the violence.

“There is no excuse for these heinous actions,” Susan Rice, White House national security adviser, said in a statement.

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