February 24, 2015

Human rights groups are denouncing the Syrian regime’s most recent aerial campaign against the city of Douma, calling it a deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian facilities.

The most intense period of strikes came between February 5-10, when at least 70 people were killed and more than 1,000 were admitted into medical facilities, the worst attacks since 2012, according to a recent report by the pro-opposition monitoring group Violations Documentation Center in Syria.

The Unified Medical Office, an independent collection of doctors and medical staff in East Ghouta with headquarters in Douma, treats the bombing victims, but is finding its own facilities among the most recent targets.

In addition to dozens of civilian deaths and hundreds of injuries, the regime’s aerial campaign is deliberately targeting medical facilities, says Dr. Abu Adnan, a general practitioner and spokesperson for the Unified Medical Office.

“I believe there is a secret war being waged by the regime on doctors, intellectuals and academics with the goal of weakening East Ghouta,” Abu Adnan tells Syria Direct's Ammar Hamou

Q: The media is reporting that the regime is targeting medics. Is that true and how many medics have been injured?

The media has reported the truth. The first missile in the regime’s last campaign against Douma on February 5 targeted the doctors’ housing at the biggest surgery location in the city. It was completely destroyed and one of the doctors was burned. There were sporadic injuries and two ambulances were damaged beyond repair. The second strike hit close to one of the medical stations and killed one of the paramedics.

On February 10, the regime nearly struck an ambulance point and destroyed the main hospital in Douma.

Douma-medic1 Medics rush to save civilian lives in Douma during February’s attacks. Photo courtesy of Ghouta Civil Defense.

Q: What are the reasons for the regime’s targeting of medical centers?

I believe that there is a secret war being waged by the regime on doctors, intellectuals and academics with the goal of weakening East Ghouta.

Q: How has the blockade on Ghouta affected the operation of medical offices in Douma?

The siege is the most important enemy of our medical work, as it has caused a lack of fuel and medical supplies.

Q: Does the Unified Medical Office support a military organization, thereby making it a target for regime attacks?

The Unified Medical Office does not follow any military organization. The medical offices are not targeted because they follow a military organization. Medical humanitarian work, civilian defense, and the Red Crescent are all targeted by the regime because their importance [to civilians] makes them a military target.

Q: Has medical work slowed due to the lack of trained personnel?

Indeed, medical work has slowed during the regime’s targeting of Douma. When these medical locations are hit with bombing, work stops for several hours. Situations that require surgical operations have moved to areas around the city.

Q: Does the Unified Medical Office have the capacity to deal with the high number of wounded? 

The Unified Medial Office in Douma is the biggest medical organization in East Ghouta, if not the biggest medical organization in the liberated regions of Syria. It does not always operate at full capacity.It has a large staff that is trained and certified.

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