Sept. 28 (UPI) — A top United Nations official and two rights groups on Thursday condemned a series of intensifying attacks against hospitals and medical facilities in Syria.
A New York-based group, Physicians for Human Rights, renounced what it called the “worst string of attacks” on medical centers in Syria since April — noting that Russian or Syrian government jets were allegedly responsible for at least five airstrikes on three hospitals in the Idlib province.
The group said the attacks left at least three hospitals, three ambulance centers, and three Syrian Civil Defense centers out of commission.
Meanwhile, the Syrian American Medical Society also condemned what it said were government attacks on rebel-held areas. It said the Syrian government and its allies on Tuesday carried out three aerial attacks on medical facilities in Idlib, Hama, and East Ghouta.
SAMA also reported some of the attacks occurred Sept. 19.
“Perhaps the most worrying development in recent days and weeks is that there is an escalating series of attacks against civilians, and against humanitarian colleagues and humanitarian lifelines, including hospitals, ambulances and health workers in Idlib,” U.N. Special Advisor for Syria Jan Egeland said Thursday.
Egeland acknowledged the attacks on five hospitals and two humanitarian facilities over the past week.
“Every time a hospital is attacked in Syria, the local community suffers an immense loss, and crucial access to health care is lost,” SAMS President Dr. Ahmad Tarakji added in a statement.
Human rights watchdogs with PHR note that targeting hospitals and medical facilities has been an ongoing tactic throughout Syria’s six-year civil war, and that the purported attacks are part of an intensifying escalation of violence against areas outside of government control.
“We are especially outraged to see the use of such illegal weapons such as bunker buster bombs,” Tarakji added, “Most of all, we mourn the loss of life of medical personnel and the patients in their care.”
PHR has documented 478 attacks on 323 medical facilities since the beginning of Syria’s civil war.