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ICC Note:

Doctors in Idlib are under increased stress as the targeted bombing of hospitals once again renews, with four hospitals having been hit within the past week. Two majority Christian villages just outside of Idlib were also targeted, resulting in five casualties and the death of an infant. As hostilities in the area continue to take its tragic toll on the civilian population, doctors are frustrated by their inability to provide medical help to the wider community.

09/30/2017 Syria
(The Guardian) – Renewed bombing of hospitals in Syria’s six-year civil war by forces loyal to the government of Bashar al-Assad has sparked strong condemnations by human rights groups and despair among local doctors, who have accused the international community of ignoring attacks on medical facilities.

Doctors said four hospitals had been hit over the past week in Idlib, a rebel-controlled province bordering Turkey, and Hama, the scene of recent fighting despite a months-long ceasefire brokered by Ankara and Moscow.

A fifth hospital in Idlib was damaged on Friday afternoon after a nearby residential building was bombed, killing 14 people, local sources said.

“It is demonstrably evident that hospitals are not safe from bombings in Idlib at the moment, and this is outrageous,” said Brice de le Vingne, the director of operations at Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which provides support to one of the hospitals that were hit in recent days.

Two hospitals were evacuated on Wednesday over fears of a possible bombing.

The attacks, which have been deemed by UN investigators a systematic attempt by the Syrian government to target healthcare facilities, have placed dire strain on doctors, working under fire with few resources, amid an escalation of violence in recent days in the area, the last bastion of rebel forces battling to overthrow Assad.

Dozens of civilians have been killed over the last week and a half, amid an ongoing rebel offensive in Hama and retaliatory airstrikes on civilians in Idlib. MSF said six of the hospitals it supports in the two provinces received 241 wounded and identified 61 dead between 20 and 27 September.

Physicians for Human Rights, which tracks attacks against health facilities in Syria, said the latest bout was the most intense against medical facilities since April, and said they may amount to war crimes. The organisation described them as “an egregious violation of the laws of war and a callous attempt to inflict suffering on civilians who have endured relentless warfare for nearly seven years”.

The repeated attacks in recent days have led to despair among local doctors, some of whom declined to offer details of the bombings to the Guardian, saying their calls for protection of civilians will fall on deaf ears.

“My message to the international community is to go ahead, why is it taking you so long to finish us off?” said one aid official who helps manage local hospitals, and who asked to remain anonymous because, he said, calling on the international community to act was useless and he did not want to subject his hospitals to further bombings.

“We are closing the hospitals one by one, it’s clear this time there are no safe hospitals,” he added.

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