October 20, 2021

Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday, October 20 at approximately 8:00 AM local time, the town of Ariha in Idlib governorate was targeted with shelling, killing 13 people and injuring at least 40. 4 children have been identified among those killed. The attack targeted civilian areas in Qassabin Market, and comes at a time when COVID-19 is spreading rapidly and medical resources are in severe shortage. 

SAMS has responded to the attack by providing care for 21 injured patients, including 3 children, 1 woman, and 17 men. Our ambulance teams gave preliminary treatment to the injured we received, and 5 of the wounded were immediately transferred to the operating room for surgery upon their arrival at Idlib Central Hospital. Currently, 12 patients have been discharged from the hospital, while 9 remain under the supervision of our staff, 4 of whom are in the intensive care unit. 

A SAMS ER doctor from Idlib Central Hospital, Dr. Zaher Barhoum told us:

“We are working hard to provide emergency care for the injured, including wound care and bleeding control. The 5 patients in critical condition were sent to the OR immediately for surgery, and the rest of the injured are being monitored in the hospital ward.” 

The COVID-19 situation in northwest Syria has been worsening recently, exhausting resources and causing an increasing shortage of oxygen and other crucial supplies. In September alone, health actors confirmed 525 COVID-related deaths, compared to 55 deaths in August. Furthermore, test positivity rates in northwest Syria have averaged 52% in the last two months, and daily totals have reached a peak of 61%. Consistent attacks on healthcare facilities and personnel have left the health system in northwest Syria lacking essential resources, equipment, and medication. Attacks like the one that occurred today in Ariha put even further stress on the already exhausted medical facilities and staff in the region. 

SAMS condemns the continued indiscriminate attacks on civilians, and calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities to ensure protection for civilians in northwest Syria. We call on the UN to immediately investigate ongoing attacks on civilian areas, which place our medical facilities and healthcare workers at risk and under pressure, even as they continue to serve their communities in the face of both the conflict and the pandemic.