News / Middle East

    UN: Syria Attacking Hospitals as 'Weapon of War'

    Syrian rebel-controlled area of Aleppo, with destroyed buildings, including Dar Al-Shifa hospital, a result of government airstrikes, Nov. 2012 (file photo).
    Syrian rebel-controlled area of Aleppo, with destroyed buildings, including Dar Al-Shifa hospital, a result of government airstrikes, Nov. 2012 (file photo).
    Reuters
    Syrian government forces are bombing and shelling hospitals in rebel-held areas to stop sick and wounded getting treatment, acts which constitute war crimes, U.N. investigators said on Friday.
     
    Fighters loyal to President Bashar al-Assad purposefully denied people medical care as a “weapon of war,” they added in a report. They also had details of a smaller number of incidents when rebel forces attacked hospitals.
     
    “The pattern of attacks indicates that government forces deliberately targeted hospitals and medical units to gain military advantage by depriving anti-government armed groups and their perceived supporters of medical assistance,” the report said.
     
    The attacks started as violence mounted in Syria's civil war in early 2012 and were continuing, it added.
     
    Neither Assad's nor rebel forces immediately responded to the allegations, to be discussed on Monday in Geneva at a debate at the U.N. Human Rights Council.
     
    The Syrian army has occupied hospitals, using them as bases for snipers, tanks and soldiers, according to the report. Ambulance drivers, nurses and doctors have been attacked, arrested, tortured or disappeared in “insidious” violations of international law.
     
    “Intentionally directing attacks against hospitals and places containing the sick and the wounded and against medical units using the Red Cross or Red Crescent emblem is a war crime in non-international armed conflict,” the independent investigators said, referring to a legal term for civil war.
     
    Patients had also been beaten, burned with cigarettes and tortured to death in a military hospital in Mezze, Damascus, it said.
     
    The team of 20 human rights experts, led by Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, was not allowed into Syria but interviewed more than 2,000 Syrian refugees, defectors, former patients and health staff in neighboring countries over the past two years.
     
    They also analyzed photographs, satellite images, and forensic and medical records, to document atrocities for possible future prosecution.
     
    'Harrowing accounts'
     
    “Victims relay harrowing accounts of the wounded and sick languishing at checkpoints unable to reach medical treatment, coming under renewed attack in hospital and doctors providing impartial aid being arrested and targeted,” the report said.
     
    Hospitals in Homs, Aleppo, Damascus, Deraa and Latakia have come under government shelling or aerial bombardment during the conflict that began with protests in March 2011, it added.
     
    Syrian security forces occupied the National Hospital in Deraa city for two years to March 2013 and positioned snipers on its roof who fired on sick and wounded trying to enter, the experts said.
     
    In Aleppo, Tal Rifat public hospital was destroyed by air strikes in April 2012 and field hospitals that tried to provide care were attacked by fighter jets from May to August, they added.
     
    Field hospitals in Deraa have been under constant shelling this year, killing doctors and patients, according to the report. “As such attacks continue, field hospitals have literally been driven underground, forced to operate in the basements of houses.”
     
    Although the scale of documented abuses by rebel forces appeared to be far smaller, there were increasing indications some armed groups failed to respect medical personnel and neutrality of health facilities, the report said.
     
    The al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra group detained the head doctor of a field hospital in northern Aleppo city for several days in April 2013 after he refused to display their banner in the hospital, it said.
     
    The Free Syrian Army attacked the National Hospital in Deraa in May 2013, apparently because 50 patients were believed to be linked to the government, according to the report.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Rob Robertson
    September 13, 2013 3:24 PM
    It is difficult to believe anything that is that is reported on because Syria is at war and there is lots of propaganda on both sides. I know better then then to take anything I read serious- Too may lies.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora