WHO reports surge in attacks on Syrian medical targets


Geneva (AFP)

The frequency of attacks on medical facilities in Syria spiked through the first two months of the year, far outpacing last year's rate, the World Health Organization said Friday.

Through January and February the United Nations health agency's monitoring mechanism verified 67 attacks that hit medical targets, WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva.

That marks more than 50 percent of the 112 such attacks recorded throughout 2017, he added.

Nearly half of the strikes on medical facilities this year were recorded in Eastern Ghouta, where the government is waging a devastating offensive to retake an area it lost in 2013.

The facilities hit include 20 hospitals, 16 health facilities, two ambulance stations and one medical supply warehouse.

Lindmeier said WHO was not in a position to assign blame for any specific strike but warned that targeting medical facilities was illegal.

"Medical facilities and medical personal have special protection under the international humanitarian law," he said.

"WHO calls all parties in Syria to immediately halt attacks on medical and humanitarian personal, their means of transport and equipments as well as hospitals and medical facilities."