To deliberately attack a hospital is considered a war crime but such strikes against them have become increasingly common.
A children’s hospital in the Syrian town of Azaz was hit by five missiles on February 15 last. Fourteen civilians were killed.
Dr. Osama Abo El Ezz is a surgeon in a hospital in Sakhour a district of Aleppo which is held by the rebels. He spoke, for security reasons from a secret location about what he witnessed.
“They bombed the hospital in February 2014 with a rocket from a warplane that hit the side of the hospital. The regime bombed the hospital again between June and August six times with barrel bombs. The last two times they hit the building and destroyed parts of it. The hospital was out of service completely. In order to continue providing medical services, we had to go underground,” he explained.
On April 27 the al Quds hospital also in an area of Aleppo held by rebels was bombed, it’s believed by either Russian or regime jets. Twenty seven people were killed including the last pediatrician in the east of the city Dr. Mohammed Wasim Moaz.
But such attacks are not isolated cases according to Sam Taylor the MSF Syrian Communications Coordinator.
“We have no idea why this is happening but with double-tap attacks, regular double-tap attacks, we know clearly that there’s a strategy to reduce these facilities to rubble. Now, we’ve never heard about that before where hospitals are such targets that local communities don’t want access to health care,” he said.
The attacks have turned the universally recognised symbol of the red cross into a deadly target which has exposed the failure of the international community to prevent and punish such crimes.
US forces struck an MSF clinic in Kunduz Afghanistan last year killing 42 people. It was, said the Pentagon a mistake. But MSF do not believe that version of events and has called for an independent inquiry.
“The hospital building was repeatedly targeted several times, several times in less than an hour, while no other building was hit around, so we do not have doubts that this building was targeted as such,” MSF Switzerland General Director Bruno Jochum told reporters.
More than 80 hospital and clinics supported by MSF were targeted in 2015 and 2016 killing it says at least 100 people.
Nearly 740 doctors and staff have been killed in attacks on hospitals in Syria in the last five years according to the Physicians for Human Rights.
The UN Security Council has denounced the attacks and demanded all parties in conflicts protect medical facilities, staff and patients.