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Medical Facilities Under Fire: Systematic Attacks during April 2017 on Idlib Hospitals

July 28, 2017

By Syrian Archive

Translations: Русский

In April 2017 25 hospitals or medical facilities in Syria were attacked: an average of one attack every 29 hours. 91% have been independently found to be carried out by Syrian government or Russian forces. Many of those targeted were located in Idlib, the largest remaining opposition controlled city after 2016’s siege in Aleppo left thousands displaced – the majority went to Idlib or to the Aleppo countryside.

Information published in this joint report suggests that in April 2017 Syrian and Russian armed forces were responsible for the eight attacks on Syrian hospitals and healthcare centers – facilities serving a combined 1.3 million people (a beneficiary group larger than the population of Brussels), as reported in witness statements as well as by the managers of those medical facilities.

The Syrian Archive and its partners (Syrians for Truth and Justice, Justice for Life and Bellingcat) analysed and verified this pattern of attacks by cross referencing a combination of open-source visual content, flight observation data, and witness statements. Findings regarding these attacks were characterized by repeated bombardments, lack of warnings, and an absence of active military hostilities in the vicinity of the attack. Through collecting, verifying and reporting investigative findings from these incidents, the authors hopes to preserve critical information that may be used for advocacy purposes or as evidence in future proceedings seeking legal accountability.

This report complements and supports recent efforts by human rights organisations to report violations targeting medical facilities in Idlib in April 2017. Those efforts include:

The added value of this report to the efforts mentioned above includes damage identification, as well as cross referencing and contextualising visual content (75 verified videos) with witness statements (14 people) and with flight observation data (6343 observations) provided by a spotter organisation of aircraft in the immediate vicinity of hospitals at the time of attacks. Geolocation of visual content was done in collaboration with the Bellingcat Investigation Team.

Prior to publication, consent was acquired with those interviewed (e.g. medical workers, facility managers, and Civil Defense volunteers) regarding the public sharing of information regarding attacks.

This report is broken into the following sections: Data Ethics; Research Methodology; Specific attacks against hospitals and field clinics; Further research; Errors, corrections and feedback.

Link to the full report

Download the report as PDF

Syrian Archive is a open source platform that collects, curates, verifies, and preserves visual documentation of human rights violations in #Syria | Twitter: @syrian_archive

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    • aurelien clave

      Seriously. When the GPS locations are shared the hospitals are bombed to hell even quickly.

      • kraaiiii

        if there are not marked as hospitals then according to the international law there not hospitals.

        “Such buildings, objects and places must by day be indicated by marks visible In bombardment by aircraft, all necessary steps must be taken by the commander to spare as far as possible … hospitals and other places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided such buildings, objects or places are not at the time used for military purposes. Such buildings, objects and places must by day be indicated by marks visible to aircraft …”

        but this works both ways, one sniper or heavy machine gun post or other milliary purposes and it is not a hospital anymore but a legit target.

        Many hospital hit don’t even closely resemble a hospital, and a warehouse or underground facility looks the same as a enemy stronghold/headquarters. Not sharing their location or marking then as a hospital/clinic is a sure way of getting bombed.

  1. Mad Dog

    Of course, Syria and Russia would never deliberately hit any medical facilities because they are nice guys and they only attack places with active military activity. Dream on! Are there any news reports from Syria or Russia about the bombing of these facilities, letting us know that perhaps the bombings were aimed at a warehouse or headquarters, like they did with the Sarin attack (where is THAT warehouse?). Guess not.


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