Nabad al-Hayat Hospital in southern Idlib Province was demolished on May 5 by three Russian bombs (Orient News)
Since its military intervention in September 2015, Russia’s forces have systemically destroyed infrastructure in parts of Syria. Hundreds of strikes have targeted power plants, water facilities, schools, and markets.
Medical facilities have been a specific focus of the Russian campaign. Hospitals, clinics, and civil defense centers have been destroyed to try and break the will of the civilian population, as well as their chances of rescue and recovery if they are injured in the strikes.
In the recent offensive to seize parts of Idlib and northern Hama Provinces in northwest Syria, Russia and regime warplanes struck 54 medical facilities as well as 87 schools.
The New York Times reconstructs the attacks on four hospitals, in 12 hours on May 5, to offer “a microcosm of Russia’s four-year military intervention in Syria’s civil war”.
The Times established the times of the strikes from social media posts, interviews with witnesses, and records from charities supporting the four hospitals. Then the newspaper obtained the logs of flight spotters, and cross-checked those with a review of thousands of hours of Russian Air Force radio transmissions.
The logs and recordings confirm Russian pilots over the hospitals at the times of the bombings.
The four hospitals were:
*Nabad al-Hayat Surgical Hospital, an underground trauma center in southern Idlib Province serving about 200,000 people with about 500 operations and treatment of more than 5,000 patients each month.
Three precision bombs penetrated the roof of the hospital at 2:40 pm on May 5, destroying the evacuated facility.
Nabad al-Hayat’s head nurse said, “The argument by the Russians or the regime is always that hospitals are run by terrorists. Is it really possible that all the people are terrorists?”
*Kafr Nabl Surgical Hospital, three miles northwest of Nabad al-Hayat.
Four bombs hit the facility in a 5-minute period from 5:30 pm on May 5. One man was killed, and patients and medical staff had to use oxygen tanks to avoid choking from dust.
*Kafr Zita Cave Hospital and Al-Amal Orthopedic Hospital.
In theory, the documentation could be used in a war crimes trial of the Assad regime and Russian authorities. Susannah Sirkin, director of policy at Physicians for Human Rights, explains.
“The attacks on health in Syria, as well as the indiscriminate bombing of civilian facilities, are definitely war crimes, and they should be prosecuted at the level of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.”
In practice, Russia’s “victory” through destruction and conquest of opposition territory — as well as Moscow’s permanent membership on the UN Security Council — ensures that this will not occur.