Recent medical reports of chlorine gas attacks in Syria reveal a disturbing trend in the use of chemical warfare against civilians. At least 25 people reportedly suffered chemical exposure during attacks in Idlib just last week, and six people were killed – and dozens of others were wounded – in an attack on Sarmin village in March.
One of the questions I am asked most often about my work on the Syria mapping project is how we are able to conduct our research without being on the ground in country.
By the end of 2011, government security forces were bringing detained members of the opposition to my hospital for treatment. Members of the security forces would insult and physically attack the medical staff, while also causing chaos by shooting their weapons into the air.
2014 was a distressing year for health care workers in conflict areas around the world, as attacks on medical professionals and facilities were carried out in numerous countries. As these attacks continue, they must be appropriately documented in order to increase available information, raise awareness, and find appropriate solutions that facilitate accountability and ultimately prevent future violence.
Before the uprising began more than three years ago, the Syrian healthcare system was suffering, but now it is in critical condition and desperate need of life-saving support.