Russia Destroys Last Hospital in Southern Idlib
By Scott Lucas – April 24, 2017 – In their campaign to destroy infrastructure throughout opposition areas of northwest Syria, Russia’s warplanes have destroyed the last hospital in southern Idlib Province. Testimony, videos, and photographs confirmed the use of up to six “bunker buster” missiles on the underground medical facility near the village of Abdin. Three doctors in an operating room and four patients — including three members of the same family — were killed.
The hospital was about 10 km west of Khan Sheikhoun, the town hit by the Assad regime’s nerve agent attack on April 4 that killed at least 93 people and wounded almost 600. During that assault, Khan Sheikhoun’s last hospital was put out of service.On Saturday, pro-Assad forces followed up the firing of the missiles, penetrating 10 meters deep, with an SS-21 short-range ballistic missile.
The last significant medical facility in southern Idlib, the Shaam facility has been attacked and partially destroyed three times in less than two months. After each of the previous attacks, hospital administrators rebuilt and relocated the facility, most recently attempting to shelter the building under seven meters of rock.Hospital administrators said on Sunday that they are questioning whether it is worth rebuilding this time.“We’re looking into new plans to transfer all health care work to the border areas if the warplanes don’t stop targeting medical facilities,” Dr. Abdullah al-Darwish, the head of Hama’s Healthcare Directorate, told Syria Direct.. “If even underground caves are targeted, why should the hospitals stay here?”
Residents now must travel up to 100 km (62 miles) to receive medical care in Idlib City.
A Systematic Campaign of Destruction
Since its intervention in September 2015, Russia has damaged or destroyed scores of hospitals, clinics, drug warehouses, and civil defense centers, including the vast majority of medical facilities in northwest Syria. The attacks try to degrade basic services, giving residents no option but to leave the area — thus “depopulating” it both to break the opposition and to prepare for an eventual pro-Assad ground offensive — if they want medical care.Hundreds of medical staff and patients have been killed by the assaults.Since February 1, Russia and the Assad regime have attacked more than a dozen medical facilities across opposition-controlled areas of Idlib and Hama Provinces. The bombing has completely destroyed at least seven major hospitals, two field hospitals, four specialized clinics, and one medical warehouse.
Saturday’s attack came amid Russia’s essential role in a pro-Assad offensive in neighboring northern Hama Province, with Moscow’s warplanes using incendiary and thermobaric munitions amid an intense bombing campaign. Over the weekend, Iranian-led militias and regime units took the towns of Taibat al-Imam and Halfaya, opening up all of northern Hama to the advance. www.mesop.de