Waar, Homs at Risk of Forced Evacuation as Eastern Ghouta Attacked with Suspected Chemical Agents for the Third Time in Ten Days

Washington, DC- As the area of Waar, Homs is at high risk for forced evacuation, Harasta, in Eastern Ghouta in the Damascus suburbs was attacked for the third time in ten days with a suspected chemical agent. The two areas are facing fierce bombardment, while running very low on the capacity to provide medical aid, relief and supplies.

In Harasta there was an airstrike at 7:15 p.m. Damascus time, with two missiles, suspected of carrying a chemical agent, causing symptoms, such as suffocation, consistent with exposure to chlorine gas, tens were affected from inhalation of the suspected gas, among them were six children, five women, and one White Helmet worker. The White Helmets Civil Defense worked relentlessly for two hours to evacuate victims to a safer area.

Medical staff and doctors sent out a desperate plea yesterday for NGOs to demand an immediate end to the indiscriminate bombardment of the area. Hospitals and medical facilities are unable to keep up with the constant influx of casualties from airstrikes and bombings, citing many deaths, and many losing limbs from the attacks.

Several areas throughout Syria have witnessed a sharp rise in attacks on medical facilities and civilian areas. According to the Turkey Health Cluster, on February 25, a hospital in Idlib was hit by an airstrike causing damage and putting the facility out of service. On February 24, a medical staff was wounded in an attack on hospital buildings in Damascus causing them to go out of service as well. On that same day a primary health care center was attacked and put out of service, five medical staff were wounded in the attack.

On February 23, it was reported that Napalm was used in four Ghouta civilian neighborhoods, causing massive fires and many reported unconfirmed casualties in the area.

In Ghouta there were several attacks throughout the week as two area hospitals were hit and put out of service. On Wednesday February 22, the Qaboon Civil Hospital, and the Qaboon Al Hayat Hospital were put out of service after being attacked by missiles. There were several casualties reported, yet still unconfirmed.  A representative from the UOSSM Media office in Ghouta said that the hospitals were directly targeted. Many wounded patients that were receiving treatment were transferred to another facility. The hospital provided emergency care, outpatient clinics, optometry clinics and ob/gyn services to residents of the area.

On Tuesday February 21, there were reports of suspected chemical attacks in Ghouta. A total of eight missiles were dropped in the Damascus suburbs carrying a suspected chemical agent, many of the symptoms patients experienced were consistent with chlorine inhalation, including suffocation and choking.

Many chronically ill patients in Ghouta face death, especially patients with renal failure as supplies for dialysis are very low.

On Wednesday February 22, a nurse was killed in the suburbs of Hama as she was trying to evacuate people wounded in an attack to a safe location.

On Monday February 21, another hospital in Idlib, was put out service after it was targeted by airstrikes. According to the Turkey Health Cluster, seven people were killed and several others were wounded, there were no casualties from the staff. The hospital provided 4900 consultations, 1700 admission and 280 major surgeries per month.

Dr. Khaula Sawah, CEO of UOSSM USA said, “We are very concerned with the escalation of attacks in Ghouta, and Waar, the areas have been under siege for over six months, it is vital that medications and equipment be allowed in these areas as many patients require certain medications in order to survive. We demand that the international community call for an immediate halt to the indiscriminate bombing and targeting of area hospitals and facilities, and the immediate entry of medical supplies and equipment desperately needed by people in these areas.“