The Russian-backed Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad reportedly launched a blitz in and around the city of Aleppo this week, bombing hospitals, a blood bank, and areas near schools in the rebel-held territory of the provincial capital and killing at least 87 people, including children.
So far in 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO), which has condemned recent Syrian regime assaults on hospitals in Aleppo city and elsewhere in Syria, has documented 126 such attacks across the country.
“Shockingly, such attacks on health in Syria are increasing in both frequency and scale,” it said in a statement, adding, “The pattern of attacks indicates that health care is being deliberately targeted in the Syrian conflict – this is a major violation of international law and a tragic disregard of our common humanity.”
Since around mid-2012, Aleppo, the capital of the province of the same name, has been roughly divided between Syrian regime control in the west and rebel control in the east. The city of Aleppo had once been considered Syria’s largest city,
“Eastern Aleppo has become the wretched center of Syria’s five-year conflict and the regime’s siege has triggered a humanitarian catastrophe there, as food, water and medical supplies run low,” notes CNN.
“The strikes that resumed Tuesday followed a dire text message was sent [sic] en masse to residents in the east, essentially telling them to flee or be killed in the bombings,” it adds.
Russian-assisted bombings had been temporarily halted in Aleppo city but resumed on Tuesday. Moscow has reportedly attempted to distance itself from the recent blitz.
“At least 87 people, including four children, were killed in a Syrian regime blitz on war-ravaged eastern Aleppo and the surrounding countryside. The bombings pounded hospitals, a blood bank and targets near schools, activists and medical staff said,” reports CNN.
Staff on site with the Syrian American Medical Association (SAMS) told the news network that “the Al-Shaar neighborhood appeared to be the worst hit, with barrel bombs striking the Children’s Hospital, Al-Bayan Hospital and the Central Blood Bank.”
“Buildings nearby were completely flattened,” notes CNN.
Citing the Aleppo Media Center (AMC) activist group, the news outlet adds that four children were killed in the al-Sukkari neighborhood, adding that more could be among the dead.
CNN learned from Children’s Hospital Director Dr. Hatem that he felt an estimated 20 barrel bombs hit the facility and that staff members had hunkered down in the hospital’s basement as the bombardment continued into the morning. The hospital is reportedly run by the Independent Doctor’s Association.
CNN acknowledged that it has not been able to independently verify the impact of the strikes as a result of limited access to the area.
”A horrible day for the Children’s Hospital. Me and my staff and all the patients are sitting in one room in the basement right now, trying to protect our patients,” Hatem, one of the last three pediatricians working at the hospital, identified only by one name, reportedly said in a statement.
“Pray for us please,” added Hatem.
“Medical staff on the ground said the Central Blood Bank had in October distributed about 1,500 bags of blood to 10 facilities in eastern Aleppo,” notes CNN. “The blood is a much-needed resource in an area pummeled by regular shelling.”