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Syrian Attacks on Aleppo Devastate Health Care System

  • VOA News

FILE - In this Oct. 11, 2012, file photo, Free Syrian Army fighters take a wounded Syrian woman to a hospital in Aleppo, Syria.

FILE - In this Oct. 11, 2012, file photo, Free Syrian Army fighters take a wounded Syrian woman to a hospital in Aleppo, Syria.

Syrian government attacks on hospitals in Aleppo have devastated the frontline city's health care, with roughly 95 percent of doctors having fled, been detained or killed, Physicians for Human Rights said Wednesday.

"The Syrian government’s ongoing assault on health care is one of the most egregious the world has ever seen," the group's report says.

It says it documented the deaths of 687 medical personnel and 329 attacks on medical facilities from the beginning of the conflict through October 2015. Less than a third of city's hospitals are functioning as a result of 45 attacks in the past three years, according to the report.

The New York-based rights group says there were fewer than 80 physicians working in Aleppo in any given month, or about five percent of Aleppo's pre-war physician population.

"The Syrian government is using attacks on Aleppo's health care system as a weapon of war," said Michele Heisler, one of the report’s authors.

The rights group said it had documented at least 10 Russian air attacks on medical facilities in October and that one medical worker had died in a strike. Hospital staff evacuated newborns from incubators when Russian air strikes hit the Al-Hader hospital on October 16.

Control over Aleppo has been divided between government forces that hold the western part of the city and rebels controlling its east since shortly after fighting began there in mid-2012.

Syrian government forces backed by Russian airpower are making a new push for full control of Aleppo and seized the town of al-Hader south of the city earlier this month.

Syria's nearly five-year war has left more than 250,000 dead and forced 12 million people from their homes.

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