Seven hospitals and clinics in northwestern Syria have been knocked out of action this month in airstrikes by Bashar Assad's forces, medical sources said on Sunday, revealing that the regime continues to attack hospitals, which suffer from a shortage of both medical staff and equipment.
"In April, hospitals in the south of the province of Idlib were systematically targeted," Abdel Hamid Dabbak, who is in charge of hospitals in the opposition-controlled province, told a news conference. He named seven hospitals that he said were put out of service by air raids, including a gynecological clinic.
Dabbak said work to reopen the health centers was under way, "but warplanes are still overhead and bombardments continue."
Monzer Khalil, a doctor who heads an opposition health administration, said the situation was taking its toll of civilians. "The situation is worsening the suffering of the population... and there are especially problems for babies because we are running out of incubators," he said.
Idlib has been under the control of opposition groups, and has regularly been targeted by both the Assad regime and Russian warplanes. An AFP correspondent in Idlib saw massive damage at several hospitals, where equipment had been destroyed and wards were strewn with rubble.
A report, recently released by the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM) and Physicians Across Continents (PAC), revealed that the Assad regime is increasingly targeting hospitals.
The latest chemical gas attack on a medical clinic in Idlib near the Turkish border coupled with the destruction of all the hospitals in Aleppo during the fiercest battles of the war, seen last November, have proven that the regime is not bound by any humanitarian or moral principles.
After conducting several surveys, the UOSSM's 90-page-long report revealed that the regime has repeatedly carried out airstrikes and systematic attacks, targeting hospitals and medical clinics, and has also destroyed newly built medical facilities deliberately, thus causing an urgent need for healthcare for internally displaced Syrians.
The report underlined the fact that the regime has started targeting more hospitals, compared to previous years.
"In 2016, most hospitals were targeted directly by airstrikes at least twice, with an average of three attacks per hospital. Some hospitals; for example, those in rural Damascus, were targeted 25 times. Aerial bombardment of a hospital's surroundings has been documented at an average of seven times per hospital. In some areas, the number of airstrikes near hospitals exceeded 100. A total of 1,000 direct and indirect attacks on hospitals occurred in 2016," the report said.
According to the World Health Organization, Syria is the most dangerous country for medical staff. Hundreds of medical facilities have been destroyed in the country's six-year war, which has also claimed the lives of more than 320,000 people.
In March 2011, Syrians were emboldened enough to raise their voice against Assad's dictatorship. However, the regime's response was not as peaceful as protesters expected and the country was subsequently dragged into a deadly civil war after opposition groups took up arms against the government. The Syrian civil war has caused the deaths of more than 400,000 people with at least 100,000 still missing. The war has also left nearly 10 million people displaced.