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Attacks in Syria

Syrian Man Shot Smuggling Medicine
A Syrian man shot while smuggling medicine over the Lebanese border is carried into a field hospital in Qusayr, Syria.(AFP/GettyImages)

Since mid-March 2011 Syrian government forces have sought to crush citizen uprisings. More than 190,000 people have been killed according to the UN and at thousands of others are reported to be in custody or missing.

In addition to the widely reported atrocities committed by the government, PHR has discovered reports of grievous attacks on medical facilities, health workers, and patients and documented these alarming assaults on the medical profession.

PHR calls on Bashar al-Assad to end assaults on Syria’s hospitals, doctors, and patients — a clear violation of the universally recognized principle of medical neutrality. Medical neutrality requires noninterference with medical services in times of armed conflict and nondiscriminatory treatment of the sick and wounded.

Both sides of the conflict must immediately abide by all relevant international laws. The sick and wounded must be provided the help they need, and medical professionals must be free to do their job without interference.

Despite Relative Calm in Aleppo, Airstrikes on Syrian Hospitals Continue (October 21, 2016)

As the Syrian and Russian governments planned to halt their bombing of civilians and hospitals in Aleppo this week, attacks on medical facilities in other parts of Syria continued unabated. During that time, Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) documented a series of deadly strikes on hospitals throughout Syria, and PHR today urged that the international community heed these ongoing violations of international law.

PHR Responds to Announcement of Humanitarian Pause in Aleppo (October 17, 2016)

Russian officials announced that their forces and those of their Syrian government allies would suspend bombing and other attacks on the city of Aleppo on Thursday for an eight-hour period. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which has been documenting attacks on health care facilities and personnel since the conflict began in 2011, issued the following response, attributable to PHR Director of Programs Widney Brown.

PHR response to AP interview with Assad (September 22, 2016)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continued his outlandish attempt to defend the criminal actions of his own government, lying to the world about his campaign of terror against civilians and medical facilities. President Assad claimed yet again that his forces do not attack hospitals, a position wholly at odds with the facts.

PHR Condemns Brazen Attack on Syrian Humanitarian Convoy (September 20, 2016)

PHR condemned the deadly overnight attack on a humanitarian aid convoy in Syria. The attack killed approximately 20 people, including aid workers and truck drivers, and destroyed 18 trucks loaded with vital food, medical, and other humanitarian supplies meant for tens of thousands of Syrians in opposition-held areas west of Aleppo city.

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The U.N. General Assembly Can’t Let Syria Become Another Rwanda (September 19, 2016)

World leaders have been given the opportunity to change the situation in Syria and end the ongoing violence at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

Doctors of Aleppo Abandoned, Again (August 17, 2016)

In their letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, Aleppo’s remaining doctors pleaded not for tears but for a plan to end the Syrian government’s all-out assault on hospitals and medical workers. And the response from the White House was the same as it’s been for months: we’re working on it.

World Must Not Overlook Violence in Turkey’s Southeast in Wake of Failed Coup (August 11, 2016)

In order to prevent more loss of life, Turkish authorities must cease unlawful practices that obstruct access to health care, and commit to investigating all allegations of human rights violations committed since July 2015 in the southeast.

Starving to Death in Madaya (July 13, 2016)

In late spring 2016, 12-year-old Ola died in Syria. In a place where her death could easily have been caused by barrel bombs, missiles, or mortar fire, she instead suffered a slow and painful death from starvation. This happened because she lived in Madaya.

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Letter to Vice President Biden on Crisis in Turkey (August 2016)

PHR sent a letter to U.S. Vice President Biden, ahead of his upcoming visit to Turkey, to express concern about the ongoing crisis in Turkey’s southeast.

Southeastern Turkey: Health Care Under Siege (August 2016)

Since July 2015, the Turkish authorities have waged a campaign against the population of southeastern Turkey, resulting in thousands of deaths.

Madaya: Portrait of a Syrian Town Under Siege (July 2016)

The Syrian government has besieged Madaya – a small town controlled by opposition forces an hour’s drive from Damascus – trapping residents inside without access to supplies, food, or services outside the town since July 2015.

Letter to President Obama on the Kunduz Hospital Attack (April 2016)

PHR sent a letter to President Obama expressing grave concern about the increased frequency of attacks on hospitals and medical personnel across the globe, including the devastating October airstrikes by the U.S. military on an MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

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Featured Report

Syria: Attacks on Doctors, Patients, and Hospitals

The Syrian government has responded to popular protests with months of sustained and extreme violence and intimidation, and an all-out assault on the country’s medical system. PHR has documented attacks on Syria’s medical profession – violations that are but one aspect of the myriad abuses the Syrian people have endured over the past several months. Read More »