Staff treat a patient in Idlib Province in northwest Syria (Yusuf Sayman/The Times)

Having withstood years of Russian and Assad regime attacks, hospitals in Idlib Province in opposition-held northwest Syria face a new threat: the cutoff of aid.

The Idlib Health Directorate tells Middle East Eye that 18 health facilities have reduced operations in recent months, affecting coverage for the estimated 3 million people in the opposition portion of the province.

Staff are working without pay and with minimal resources. Departments which have closed include internal medicine, pediatric care, gynecological and reproductive health, and ambulance response.

The Directorate’s head, Dr. Salem Abdan, said projects — which usually run six to 24 months — had not been renewed.

Medical centers in Idlib city, Salqin, Harem, Jericho, Atma, and Kelli have lost support, with an immediate effect on about 50,000 people, said Abdan.

Medical coordinator Basel Sabag confirmed that the Al-Dakhiliyah specialist hospital in Idlib city, treating 9,400 people each month, has halted most operations: “Our occupancy rate does not exceed 20 percent due to the lack of many medicines and medical materials.”

Idlib’s medical facilities have been trying to cope both with the Coronavirus pandemic and with the area’s economic problems. Damage from periodic Russian and Assad regime attacks on infrastructure — breaking the March 2020 ceasefire ending an 11-month pro-Assad offensive seizing part of Idlib — has been compounded by a fall of more than 40% in the Turkish lira, used throughout the province.

During the offensives forcing the displacement of more than a million civilians, Russia and the regime damaged or destroyed more than half of the medical facilities in opposition-held northwest Syria.

Of 602 confirmed attacks on at least 350 different Syrian health care facilities since 2011, 149 have been in Idlib, according to Physicians for Human Rights.

See also The Russia-Regime War on Syria’s Hospitals