Syria bombs last re­main­ing hospi­tal

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

SYR­IAN gov­ern­ment forces have bombed the last re­main­ing civil­ian hospi­tal in the be­sieged Da­m­as­cus sub­urb of Daraya, ac­cord­ing to ac­tivists, who say an in­cen­di­ary weapon sim­i­lar to na­palm was used.

Gov­ern­ment forces dropped the bombs on the hospi­tal shortly af­ter mid­night yes­ter­day morn­ing, ac­cord­ing to ac­tivists and the Bri­tain-based Syr­ian Net­work for Hu­man Rights.

“The hospi­tal . . . which was pro­vid­ing a hu­man­i­tar­ian ser­vice to the civil­ians in the city is be­ing tar­geted by in­ter­na­tion­ally banned weapons. Every­one is stand­ing by silently and watch­ing,” said one doc­tor from Daraya in a video pur­ported to have been shot out­side the hospi­tal shortly af­ter it was hit.

The hospi­tal was the only med­i­cal fa­cil­ity avail­able to 8,000 civil­ians in the be­sieged sub­urb, which was hit with in­cen­di­ary bombs for three straight days ear­lier this week, ac­cord­ing to the lo­cal coun­cil.

In­cen­di­ary weapons start fires and cause hor­rific burns much like those in­flicted by the na­palm dropped from US planes dur­ing the Viet­nam War.

In­cen­di­ary weapons are not en­tirely banned. While there is an in­ter­na­tional agree­ment for­bid­ding their use in ar­eas with a heavy civil­ian pres­ence, it has only been signed by 113 coun­tries. Rus­sia has signed up to the agree­ment, known as Pro­to­col III of the Con­ven­tion of Con­ven­tional Weapons, but Syria has not.

Daraya, a rebel-held sub­urb of the cap­i­tal, has wit­nessed some of the heav­i­est bomb­ings of the war, and has been un­der siege since 2012.

Ear­lier this week, the New York-based Hu­man Rights Watch (HRW) ac­cused Syr­ian gov­ern­ment forces and their Rus­sian al­lies of re­peat­edly us­ing in­cen­di­ary weapons against civil­ians in rebel-held parts of north­ern Syria.

“In­cen­di­ary weapons have been used at least 18 times over the past six weeks, in­clud­ing at­tacks on the op­po­si­tion-held ar­eas in the cities of Aleppo and Idlib on Au­gust 7, 2016,” the rights group said in a re­port pub­lished on Tues­day.

Pho­to­graphs and videos recorded by the group at the time of the at­tacks in­di­cated that there were in­cen­di­ary weapon at­tacks on op­po­si­tion-held ar­eas in the Aleppo and Idlib prov­inces be­tween June 5 and Au­gust 10.

“Coun­tries meet­ing at the Con­ven­tion on Con­ven­tional Weapons in Geneva on Au­gust 29 should con­demn the use of air-dropped in­cen­di­ary weapons . . . and press Syria and Rus­sia to im­me­di­ately stop us­ing in­cen­di­ary weapons in civil­ian ar­eas,” HRW said.

Shortly af­ter Rus­sian mil­i­tar­ily in­ter­vened in Syria’s civil war on be­half of em­bat­tled Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad last au­tumn, Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov wrote a let­ter to HRW, say­ing that in­cen­di­ary weapons were be­ing used in Syria and that their “im­proper use” had caused “sig­nif­i­cant hu­man­i­tar­ian dam­age”. — Al Jazeera —

Image grab taken from AFPTV footage on Thurs­day shows po­lice try­ing to con­tain a protest on Thurs­day in the town of Beni in the eastern Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of Congo AFP

Ken­neth Kaunda

Bashar al-As­sad

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