Civilians in eastern Aleppo have so far received basic care in makeshift hospitals. AFP photo
Some of the heaviest bombardment so far on Aleppo has left rebel-held parts of the Syrian city virtually without medical facilities, observers say.
The World Health Organization says all makeshift hospitals there are out of service, after five days of air and artillery strikes by government forces.
Other reports suggest some that hospitals are operational but people are too frightened to use them.
Last Hospitals destroyed in Aleppo, November 19, 2016. AP photo
A White House statement called the assault on hospitals “heinous”.
Dozens have died since a government assault on Aleppo resumed this week.
On Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitoring group, said that at least 27 civilians had been killed in recent government strikes on rebel-held eastern Aleppo.
Medics have in the past been able to bring field hospitals back into operation after strikes, but the lack of supplies is now so severe that this is becoming harder, Reuters news agency reports.
The recent bombardment has left streets deserted, with people trying to shelter in their homes.
The SOHR says the strikes have been so massive that residents are frightened to use medical facilities.
Reuters quotes the WHO’s representative in Syria, Elizabeth Hoff, as saying on Saturday that NGOs based over the border in Turkey “confirmed today that all hospitals in eastern Aleppo are out of service”.
Food running out
On Friday the UN envoy for Syria, Jan Egeland, said eastern Aleppo faced a “bleak moment” with supplies low and winter coming.
“My understanding is that virtually all warehouses are now empty and tens of thousands of families are running out of food,” he told Reuters.
Also on Friday, a volunteer with the White Helmets Civil Defence force told agency AFP news agency that he had “never heard such intense artillery bombardments”.
His team had been unable to respond to an emergency call because “the shells are falling on the street”, he said.
Aleppo, once Syria’s commercial and industrial hub, has been divided roughly in two since 2012, with the government controlling the west and rebels the east.
On 22 September, two weeks after encircling the east and reimposing a siege on its estimated 275,000 residents, the army launched an all-out assault to take full control of the city with the help of Iranian-backed militias and the Russian air force.
By the end of October, the strikes had killed more than 700 civilians in the east, while rocket fire had left scores dead in the west, according to the UN.
The air strikes resumed on Tuesday after a three-week moratorium declared by the government’s ally Russia ended, with more than 100 people reported killed in the past five days.
Russia says its air force is active in other parts of Syria, but not operating over Aleppo.
A statement by White House national security adviser Susan Rice condemned what she called “heinous actions”.
“The Syrian regime and its allies, Russia in particular, bear responsibility for the immediate and long-term consequences these actions have caused in Syria and beyond,” she said, adding that Russia must “immediately” cease violence and allow humanitarian aid.
Aleppo’s last hospital destroyed by airstrikes
The last operating hospital in east Aleppo has been destroyed by airstrikes, leaving up to 250,000 residents without access to surgery or specialist care, and rebel-held districts at the point of collapse.
Another four hospitals were hit and forced to close on Friday, before the Omar bin Abdul Aziz facility was struck just after 8.30 pm, capping the most deadly day yet for the medical system in Syria’s second city, which has been systematically targeted by Russian and regime jets over the past year.
“They have all been repeatedly attacked over the last few days,” said David Nott, a surgeon with decades of experience working in war zones, who has been supporting the Aleppo doctors.
“I don’t think in all my years of doing this I’ve seen such dreadful pictures of injuries, of people lying on the floor in an emergency room, the dead mixed with the living,” said Nott. At least two doctors were among the dead, he said, and he feared hospitals that had kept operating under attack and with dwindling supplies might now have been shut down permanently.
“The Aleppo hospitals have been re-opened so many times, underground or in new locations, but between the bombing and the siege I don’t know if it will be possible to resurrect them this time.”
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Tags: air strikes, Aleppo, artillery, Assad, Assad regime, Civil Defence, food running out, hospitals, Medical, Obama, refugees, Russian air force, Susan Rice, Syria, Syrian regime., war crimes, White Helmets