On March 21, 2021, Syrian regime forces and affiliated militias, stationed on Brigade 46 near Orm al Kubra village in the western suburbs of Aleppo governorate, fired three mortar shells at al Atareb Surgical Hospital (based in a cave) located in a mountainous area in northwest of al Atareb city in the western suburbs of the governorate, killing at least seven civilians, including a child and a woman, who were receiving treatment in the hospital and injuring five others to varying degrees. Additionally, the hospital was severely damaged. SNHR can confirm that the hospital is far from any residential areas and free of any military presence or equipment.
SNHR condemns all attacks on medical facilities and medical personnel, and emphasizes that the Syrian regime bears direct responsibility for killing 652 medical personnel and carrying out 543 attacks on medical facilities to date, while 3,329 healthcare sector workers detained by the regime since March 2011 remain under arrest or forcibly disappeared in regime prisons. This latest attack took place amid the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic as a blatant message that the regime is indifferent to civilians’ lives.
Through this attack, the Syrian forces have, without doubt, committed another violation of Security Council resolutions 2139 and 2254, which prohibited any further indiscriminate attacks, as well as violating the rules of international humanitarian law which stress the distinction between civilians and combatants. Attacks of this nature spread terror and panic among civilians, leading them to flee their lands and homes in an attempt to reach safety, and forcibly displacing them, with the number of internally displaced persons within Syria now reaching approximately 6.5 million Syrian citizens in total. The international community should put pressure on the Syrian regime and its allies to compensate the displaced victims, rehabilitate homes and vital centers, support the process of political transition, and press all parties to pursue implementation of political transition according to a strict timetable which must not exceed six months, thus enabling millions of IDPs to return homes.
Photo shows damage to the hospital in the aftermath of Syrian regime forces’ shelling
Photo shows an injured person being treated in the aftermath of Syrian regime forces’ shelling of the hospital