March 22, 2021

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday’s heinous attack on SAMS-supported Al-Atareb Hospital in Western Aleppo, which killed 7 patients and wounded at least 15 others, including 5 medical staff, is a stark reminder of the failure of the international community to put an end to the impunity of perpetrators of these crimes against humanity. Among those killed in the attack was a 12-year-old orphan who came to the hospital to receive his routine vaccinations. Yesterday’s attack on Al-Atareb Hospital is the latest in a long series of systematic attacks on health during the decade-long Syrian conflict. 

SAMS calls for an immediate investigation into this attack. The hospital’s coordinates had been shared with UN OCHA in order to deconflict and certify that it was a humanitarian facility. This makes yesterday’s attack an even more flagrant violation of international law, and the perpetrators must be held accountable. Without accountability, these attacks are likely to continue, which has been the case in Syria. Out of fear of further attacks, all health facilities in the area surrounding Al-Atareb remain closed.

“We’re appalled by yesterday’s attack on our hospital. There is no excuse for bombing civilian infrastructure, let alone a hospital that serves a vulnerable population facing deteriorating living conditions amid displacement, strife, and COVID-19,”said SAMS President, Dr. Mufaddal Hamadeh.“We were forced to temporarily close this hospital and other vital facilities in the surrounding areas. It’s never an easy decision, but it’s our only option to protect our staff and their patients while we’re assessing the situation on the ground.”

Northwest Syria is home to over 4 million people, 2.7 million of whom are internally displaced. Many residents in northwest Syria lack access to basic necessities such as shelter, food, water, and access to health and protection services. Recent months have witnessed a rise in malnutrition cases, especially among children. These already-deteriorating living conditions have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, worsening the economic situation across the board in northwest Syria.

Yesterday also saw airstrikes targeting civilian infrastructure in Northern Idlib, close to the Turkish border.  SAMS fears that a new military offensive is imminent. This makes it even more urgent for the international community to act now, particularly the UN Security Council, to be prepared to take action to prevent further escalation and loss of life.

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