For Immediate Release

February 5, 2018

Washington, D.C.- Yesterday, February 4, at approximately 8 pm local time, six airstrikes targeted the SAMS-supported Al-Ma’ara National Hospital in Idlib. No casualties were reported, but the hospital sustained extensive damage and was forced to close. Patients, including eight premature babies,  were transferred to nearby hospitals to continue their treatment. Since the beginning of 2018, this hospital has been attacked five times. Over the past three months, the hospital has provided 43,866 consultations, performed 8,608 surgeries, and delivered 324 babies.

This was the third attack on healthcare in Idlib yesterday alone. After repeated airstrikes on civilians in the north of Syria, the remaining hospitals are overloaded, with no capacity to receive new injuries. Since the beginning of 2018, there have been 34 attacks on healthcare, one every 24 hours. This sad reality, combined with the large number of newly-displaced individuals entering the area, has pushed the health system beyond its limit.

This year, medical facilities in the provinces of Hama and Idlib have been subjected to systematic aerial attacks, leading to the closure of a number of hospitals, including Al-Salam, Al-Ma’arah Central, Kafr Zita, and Ibn Sina. Due to these attacks, thousands of people in need have been affected by the loss of medical services in these areas.

On the same day in Saraqeb, Idlib, 11 patients arrived at a SAMS-supported facility with symptoms of Chlorine gas poisoning, including vomiting, dyspnea, and dry cough. Yesterday’s attack marks the 196th use of chemical weapons in Syria since the beginning of the conflict, and the sixth in 2018. These heinous attacks aim to terrify civilians, forcing them to leave their homes and seek refuge elsewhere.   

Earlier this morning, airstrikes targeted a blood bank in Saraqeb, Idlib. The facility was forced to close its doors last month due to an airstrike, and planned to reopen in another city. It was targeted today while the facility’s staff was evacuating the equipment.  

“Our colleagues continue to face the blatant, repeated targeting of healthcare facilities. SAMS strongly condemns the escalation of such attacks, which are representative of the cruel tactic of deliberately targeting healthcare. We call for international law to be enforced in Idlib and other parts of Syria, and for hospitals and civilians to be granted the protection to which they are entitled,” said SAMS President, Dr. Ahmad Tarakji.

Although Idlib has been designated as a “de-escalation zone,” brokered by Iran, Russia, and Turkey a few months back, indiscriminate attacks on civilians and healthcare  in the area continue with impunity. SAMS calls on the international community to intervene immediately to put an end  to these attacks and protect the people of Syria.

For media requests, please contact SAMS’s Media and Communications Manager, Lobna Hassairi at [email protected]

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