Red Cross Warns of ‘Harrowing’ Spike in Civilian Deaths in Syria War
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) voiced alarm at a surge in violence resulting in hundreds of civilian casualties and the destruction of hospitals and schools over the past two weeks.
In a report published on Friday, ICRC said that “as many as ten hospitals have been damaged in the past 10 days, cutting hundreds of thousands of people from access to even the most basic healthcare.”
“These are the worst levels of violence since the battle for Aleppo in 2016,” the Committee added. Recent weeks have seen a spike in civilian casualties across Syria as a result of military operations being carried out by the Assad regime and Russia and the bombing campaign by the international coalition against the ISIS extremist group.
"For the past two weeks, we have seen an increasingly worrying spike in military operations that correlates with high levels of civilian casualties," said the head of ICRC's delegation in Syria, Marianne Gasser.
Echoing these concerns, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that September was the deadliest month of 2017 for Syrian civilians.
“I am appalled by reports of high numbers of civilian casualties due to heavy air attacks in Syria,” Regional Humanitarian Coordinator Panos Moumtzis said in a statement released on Friday.
“Targeting of civilians and facilities including hospitals and other medical facilities is simply unacceptable and constitute a grave violation of human rights and international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes,” Moumtzis concluded.
Watchdog groups reported a sharp increase in civilian casualties in several areas across Syria in the past two weeks, especially in the provinces of Raqqa and Deir Ezzor as a result of air raids by the Assad regime and Russia as well as the US-led coalition forces.
Earlier this month, monitoring groups said that they had documented the death of over 3,000 people, including about 1,000 civilians in September, making it the deadliest month since the beginning of 2017. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)