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Aleppo's two largest hospitals bombed by regime

September 28, 2016

The city's dire humanitarian crisis has been compounded by government shelling in the rebel-held east. On top of the hospital attack, Human Rights Watch has accused President Assad of using banned chemical weapons.

Syrien Aleppo Menschen zwischen Trümmern
Image: Getty Images/AFP/K. Al-Masri

Government bombardment of the Syrian city of Aleppo hit the area's two largest hospitals on Wednesday. The bombing in the rebel-held eastern part of the city put the heavily damaged facilities out of service, compounding the city's critical lack of medical services.

"The warplane flew over us and directly started dropping its missiles on this hospital...at around 4 a.m.," a doctor told Reuters news agency. According to a report by the Washington Post, two patients died in the attack that also injured three staff members.

After a sorely-need ceasefire collapsed last week, regime troops and their Russian allies launched an all-out offensive on the war-ravaged city, with some residents calling it the worst violence they have seen during the five-year conflict. The World Health Organization had already issued a warning that it was running short of supplies for the city's 250,000 inhabitants.

Drone footage shows heavy destruction in Aleppo

The two hospitals hit on Wednesday were two of the seven that the WHO said were still running in the besieged city. The Washington Post reported that the recent offensive had already killed hundreds in just a few short days.

Human Rights Watch: Assad using chemical weapons

Aleppo's medical crisis was all the more dire on Wednesday considering a Human Rights Watch report accusing government forces of using chemical weapons on its own people in their bid to drive the rebels from the city. 

The rights group called on the United Nations to step up the pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"Even after the UN confirmed the Syrian government's responsibility for chemical attacks on Syrian civilians, Damascus hasn't stopped its criminal behavior, " said Ole Solvang, HRW's deputy head of emergencies, on HRW's website. "The Security Council could deter future atrocities by ensuring that the Syrian government faces real consequences for ignoring Security Council resolutions." 

The report contains harrowing stories of what happened after the regime dropped barrel bombs of toxic chemicals on parts of Aleppo. One doctor told the organization about the death of two children under his care after such an attack on August 10: "The children were unconscious and unresponsive. Their mother was shivering, coughing, and wheezing. She barely could breathe and was drooling heavily from her mouth."

Human Rights Watch added that doctors reported seeing yellow and green smoke near the impact site of one the bombs earlier in September, which is a sign of the use of chlorine weapons. The 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, of which Syria has been a signatory for three years, forbids the use of weaponized chlorine.

Elizabeth Schumacher
Elizabeth Schumacher Elizabeth Schumacher reports on gender equity, immigration, poverty and education in Germany.