Syria’s civil war: ‘Last hospital in Daraya bombed’

Only remaining civilian hospital in besieged Damascus suburb hit with incendiary weapons, activists say.

Daraya ''napalm'' attack
Incendiary weapons have been used at least 18 times in six weeks, HRW says [Al Jazeera]

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 on Friday 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. 

This video, published on the local Daraya council’s YouTube page, is said to show the immediate aftermath of the attack on the hospital. Al Jazeera could not independently verify the footage.

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 rebels accuse government of “napalm” attack

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.

Incendiary uptick 

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.

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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”.

The letter did not specify which side had used them. 

Source: Al Jazeera