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Albin Szakola

Syria regime and Russia
bombing Daraa hospitals

Medical crews have moved to shut down field hospitals in the southern Syria province after airstrikes destroyed three medical facilities in the past week.

Future Hospital. (Facebook)

BEIRUT – Four field hospitals in rebel-held areas of Daraa have been forced to close due to heavy airstrikes in southern Syria that have already damaged three infirmaries.

 

Medical crews in Daraa decided on Wednesday to shut down hospitals in the villages of Al-Naimeh, Al-Jiza, Busr al-Harir and Al-Ghariya al-Sharqiya because of the “intensive bombing by Russian warplanes that has directly targeted [medical institutions] in the Daraa countryside.”

 

The Naimeh hospital, for its part, announced that it was closing due to the “fierce assault the area is being subjected to, [in the form of bombing] by Russian warplanes and artillery shelling by the regime, [as well as] the direct targeting of field hospitals.”

 

The director of the infirmary, Dr. Khalil Issa, told SMART News that the facility’s doctors would deploy to several makeshift ambulatory points to administer first aid to wounded people before transferring them to the nearest open hospital.

 

The hospital director lamented the medical situation in Daraa, saying that hospitals were not only being systemically shelled, but also lacked medical supplies.

 

Another local doctor said that medical crews decided to shut the four field hospitals in the province “after information emerged that the regime’s army had selected these locations for bombing, in cooperation with the Russian Air Force, to immobilize the hospitals in preparation for military actions it intends to launch over the next few days.”

 

Saleh, who works at a hospital in the city of Daraa, told Al-Souria Net that the “bombing by Russian and Syrian warplanes of these hospitals has coincided with the military escalation by the regime’s army and Lebanon’s Hezbollah on several fronts in Daraa and the increase of strikes on areas were civilians are gathered.”

 

The doctor attributed this to “the attempt by the regime and its Russian ally to obstruct the treatment of the wounded, especially as most of Daraa’s hospitals have mid-level resources and there is not a single hospital in the province capable of receiving 10 injured people at once.”

 

The precautionary step to close down four field hospitals in Daraa comes after airstrikes in the past week targeted medical facilities in Al-Ghariya al-Gharbiya, Tafas and Saida.

 

Al-Ghariya al-Gharbiya

 

A video shows damage to a hospital in Daraa's Al-Ghariya al-Gharbiya. (YouTube/Shaam News Network)

 

Devastating air-raids on consecutive days destroyed Future Hospital in Al-Ghariya al-Gharbiya, a town ten kilometers northeast of the provincial capital of Daraa.

 

On February 4, the hospital announced on its Facebook page that Syrian regime helicopters had dropped barrel bombs that caused damage to the building. The hospital also posted a series of photos showing debris strewn across rooms in the facility.

 

Barrel bomb damage

Damage caused by a barrel bombing of the Future Hospital. (Facebook/Future Hospital-Al-Ghariya al-Gharbiya)

 

“We announce the cessation of work in the hospital pending the repair to the damage that has befallen the hospital,” Future Hospital said.

 

However, the staff had no chance to begin repairs to the infirmary as another airstrike caused far worse damage the following day.

 

“Russian airplanes this morning hit the hospital for the second time leading to very great damage,” the field hospital said.

 

Future Hospital Exterior

Damage caused by the airstrike on the Future Hospital. (Facebook/Future Hospital-Al-Ghariya al-Gharbiya)

 

Pictures of the aftermath of the bombing revealed the hospital was severely damaged, with the facility reduced to a rubble-strewn shell, parts of which were leveled to the ground.

 

Future Hospital Exterior 2

Damage caused by the airstrike on the Future Hospital. (Facebook/Future Hospital-Al-Ghariya al-Gharbiya

 

Dr. Ahmad Ayyash—an employee at the hospital—told pro-opposition 7al.me that the staff would now work as a mobile unit until a replacement site could be found for a new infirmary.

 

Tafas

 

Tafas

 

Damage caused by the February 5 airstrike on Tafas hospital. (Doctors Without Borders)

 

Hours after the Future Hospital was hit in southeast Daraa, a field hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders in Tafas was rocked by deadly airstrikes.

 

The NGO issued a statement that three people were killed and six others wounded in the bombardment of the hospital on the night of February 5, however it did not specify whether Russian or regime aircrafts had conducted the raid.

 

According to Doctors Without Boders, the strikes “damaged part of the hospital building itself and incapacitated its heavily used ambulance service.”

 

An eyewitness gave an account of the strike to the NGO, saying that “as soon as I reached the hospital, I myself got injured. It all happened very quickly.”

 

“I saw what looked like an explosion and then a flash of light, and then I lost consciousness for five minutes. My colleagues saw me lying on the ground, bleeding, and rushed me inside.”

 

Doctors Without Borders condemned the bombing, calling it a “flagrant violation of international laws.”

 

“This latest incident further weakens Syria’s already exhausted health care system, and prevents more people from accessing desperately needed medical care.”

 

Saida

 

A video shows damage to the Saida City Hospital. (YouTube/SMART News Agency)

 

Yet another hospital, this time in the town of Saida, came under fire on February 9, with staff claiming a Russian jet had fired a missile at the infirmary.

 

The communication director for the Saida City Hospital told SMART News that the facility had suspended its work “until further notice” following a Russian raid that left “massive destruction to the building and medical equipment.”

 

He added that seven people suffered injuries and were transferred to hospitals in nearby towns.

 

The communication officer also discussed future precautionary measures at the hospital, saying that earth mounds would be erected around the building while emergency facilities would be prepared in its basement.

 

SMART News later published a video in which their reporter toured the hospital and described the damage to the building.

 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the incident, but said only that a “warplane” conducted the bombing run, without specifying whether it was Russian or Syrian. 

 

Ullin Hope and Amin Nasr contributed translations of Arabic-language source material.

An airstrike heavily damaged a field hospital in Daraa's Al-Ghariya al-Gharbiya. (Facebook/Future Hospital-Al-Ghariya al-Gharbiya)

This latest incident further weakens Syria’s already exhausted health care system, and prevents more people from accessing desperately needed medical care.