Air strikes in Aleppo on Wednesday have killed at least 20 people, damaging three hospitals in the rebel districts of the Syrian city. Several more have been wounded as a result of the barrel bomb strikes in the most recent burst of violence of the Syrian civil war. It is believed that the Assad government’s forces are behind the air strikes in the opposition-held section of Aleppo.
One of the hospitals hit in the busy Al Shaar neighbourhood — Al Hakim hospital, supported by the UNICEF — was one of the last few centers that provided medical care for children. The second attack on the hospital completes a series of six strikes on sites of healthcare in Syria in just the past week.
Along with Al Hakim children’s hospital, Al Bayan, which is only 300 metres away from Al Hakim, and the clinic Abdulhadi Fares have lost entire floors, along with valuable medical resources. Nurses and admitted children were injured as well, some quite seriously. In a statement attributed to Dr. Peter Salama, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, UNICEF announced the names of the three hospitals that have been hit in the eastern side of war-ravaged Aleppo and called for a moral awakening.
“Everyone must question their humanity when babies have to be taken out of incubators because of attacks on hospitals…Surely this should shake the moral compass of the world. How long will we allow the children of Syria to suffer like this?”
As many as nine newborns had to be removed from incubators in order to be taken to safety, during the air strikes. Dr Hatem, director of Al Bayan Hospital, spoke to Al Jazeera about the aftermath of the Aleppo air strikes.
“Our ability to provide even the most basic protections to our most vulnerable is disappearing. Every world leader must imagine that one of these newborns were their own son or daughter. Whatever they would do to protect their own children they need to afford the same protection for ours.”
The hospitals that are left functioning after the most recent air strikes in Aleppo have to cater to as many as 350,000 residents, according to the medics who spoke to the BBC. The current eastern Aleppo, in which nurses have to run into shelters with newborns and ailing children, is at a glaring contrast with the quaint Aleppo that existed until 2012.
While President Bashar al-Assad’s government controls the western part of Aleppo, the eastern side is held by rebels and is brought frequently under the mercy of air strikes by the government. These are, however, not the only two powers that routinely ravage Aleppo — once an almost picturesque example of Middle Eastern prosperity. The northern parts of the city is at constant risk of occupation by the Islamic State, against which the rebel forces are locked in armed struggle.
The tussle between government attacks on the east of Aleppo and rebel-led strikes inflicted upon the west has brought about untold misery to an already devastated Syria. As reported by The Independent, according to Doctors Without Borders, 100 patients, nurses, and members of staff have been killed and at least 130 wounded in the air strikes on more than 80 of their supported and run health centers since 2015.
The air strikes in Aleppo have come within 24 hours of the president promising to reclaim “every inch of Syria” in a fiery speech in Damascus that, according to The Guardian, opens the floodgates to conflict rather than peaceful negotiation.
[Photo by Manu Brabo/AP Images]