For Immediate Release

May 8, 2015

Washington, DC – At least three incidents of chlorine-filled barrel bombs being dropped on the Idlib governorate were reported on Thursday. A SAMS-supported hospital near Kansafra, Idlib treated 25 people suffering from chemical exposure from one of these attacks. Additionally, a barrel bomb attack hit a SAMS-supported hospital in Hzareen, Idlib and killed a nurse, Warda Al Aqra’a. Dr. Zaher Sahloul, President of SAMS, said, “People in Idlib feel helpless in the face of consistent and ongoing chemical attacks, as well as barrel bombs and missile strikes. These civilian areas are being targeted as a form of collective punishment.” Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 12.03.31 PM

On Thursday, May 7, civilians in Kansafra reported seeing a barrel bomb fall from a helicopter but not hearing a sound when it exploded, which is common for chlorine-filled barrels. A nearby SAMS-supported hospital treated 25 people suffering from chemical exposure, including two children as young as three-years-old. The victims showed symptoms of shortness of breath, severe coughs, and asphyxiation. Those who suffered from chemical exposure were washed off with water, provided with oxygen, and given atrovent nebulizers. For the moderate cases, cortisone and atropine were provided. No deaths have been reported from this incident.

Activists report that chlorine-filled barrels were also dropped on Al-Janudiya and Kafr Beteekh in Idlib on Thursday. They report that a man in his sixties has since died from chlorine exposure.

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In Hzareen, southern Idlib, a barrel bomb was dropped from a helicopter at around 2pm, directly hitting a SAMS-supported facility. Shrapnel hit nurse Warda Al Aqra’a in the head and killed her instantly. She was 36 years old. Five other hospital staff were injured in the attack and many civilians were injured in front of the hospital. The barrel explosion resulted in extensive damage of the hospital building and medical equipment, especially equipment in the operating rooms and radiology room. The hospital is not currently operational. This hospital has been critical in treating civilian injuries in the region, and its absence will put a strain on nearby facilities. It was previously attacked by a missile from a warplane in late 2014, with no casualties.

These attacks follow numerous chlorine and explosive barrel bomb attacks throughout Idlib region. On May 2, two chlorine attacks hit Saraqeb and Al Nairab in Idlib, with more than 70 people treated for chemical exposure. A 6-month-old baby, Mustafa Hag Ali, was killed from the effects of chlorine. Hi father, Ahmed Mustafa Hag Ali, died yesterday in a SAMS-supported hospital in northern Idlib after being treated for chlorine exposure for the last five days.

Dr. Mohamed Tennari, the SAMS coordinator of Idlib, said, “In response to chemical attacks in Syria, the international community sends us more atropine. This is disappointing. This means that the world knows that the government will use chemical weapons against us again. What we need is not atropine – what we urgently need is protection from the bombs.”00026.MTS snapshot 00.15 2015.05.07 17.02.31

Since the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2209 condemning chlorine as a weapon in Syria, there have been at least 14 violations in the form of chlorine-filled bombs being dropped from helicopters. SAMS is gravely concerned about a continuation and escalation of chemical agent use, as well as continued targeting of hospitals and medical facilities, all of which violate international humanitarian law. Dr. Zaher Sahloul said, “We are concerned that a large attack, potentially to the scale of the August 2013 attack in Eastern Ghouta, is impending unless the UN Security Council enforces its own resolutions.” The UN must hold perpetrators accountable for these direct violations of international law and UN Security Council Resolutions 2118 and 2209, and act with urgency to protect civilians from continued attacks.