PHOTO: Medical personnel treat a boy wounded in Saturday bombing of hospital in opposition-held area of Aleppo
Writing for Syria Direct, Justin Schuster, Alaa Nassar, and Laila Mourad report on the regime barrel-bombing of yet another hospital in northwest Syria.
Dozens of hospitals, medical facilities, and civil defense centers have been struck by Russian and regime airstrikes since last September. In late April, an attack on another hospital in opposition-held Aleppo city killed 55 people, including doctors and patients.
The first barrel bomb fell on Aleppo city’s Omar bin Abdulaziz Hospital around 12:00 pm on Saturday in a central, rebel-held district. .
Medical personnel immediately raced to evacuate the building. Pediatricians and cardiologists cleared the hospital’s wings, ushering patients and medical staff onto the adjacent streets.
But the bombs continued to rain down in rapid succession, as nearby Civil Defense first responders rushed to the scene.
“First came the regime’s barrel bombs,” Ibrahim Abu al-Layth, an Aleppo Civil Defense spokesman, told Syria Direct on Sunday. “Next came the Russian airstrikes.”
The helicopters carrying the barrel bombs flew low, swooping down in order to directly hit the hospital, eyewitnesses told Syria Direct. The aftermath of an estimated 10 barrel bombs on the facility left ambulances, vital medical equipment and large portions of the building’s structure completely destroyed, forcing the hospital — the only such facility serving central Aleppo city — to close its doors.
“A Catastrophic Impact”
Located in central Aleppo city’s al-Maadi neighborhood, the Omar bin Abdulaziz Hospital served hundreds of patients daily prior to the attacks.
“There’s no understating the importance of this hospital,” Aref Alaref, one of the hospital’s emergency room doctors, told Syria Direct on Sunday. “From critical care to kidney dialysis, the hospital provided life-saving services to hundreds of families.”
Following Saturday’s bombings, which injured six people, medical staff scrambled to relocate patients across the city’s rebel-controlled, eastern facilities until the hospital is rebuilt.
The nearest medical facility is located roughly four to five kilometers away from the Omar bin Abdulaziz Hospital. While the distance may not seem far, “it can be enough to kill a person,” Ammar al-Halabi, a citizen journalist based in central Aleppo, told Syria Direct on Monday.
“If there’s a victim of a bombing, and they have to make it to the nearest hospital, those five kilometers can be a considerable distance,” he added.
The weekend bombings further strain available medical resources across the city’s rebel-held east.
“If just one hospital goes out of service, it has a catastrophic impact on the humanitarian situation across the entire city,” said emergency room doctor Aref Alaref.
“Hospitals that were once treating 50 injured patients will now have to treat double that number, if not more,” said journalist Ammar al-Halabi. “There will be increased pressure across the board, especially on the ambulances.”
Warplanes have previously struck near the hospital, incurring minor damage. Saturday’s attack, however, marks the first direct hit, with the airstrikes completely shutting the facility down.
In addition to the Omar bin Abdulaziz Hospital, the barrel bombs also destroyed a small nearby medical clinic.
Neither Syrian nor Russian state media have commented on the attacks….