The staff of the opposition-run Barnas Hospital, located in Latakia on the Syrian-Turkish border, evacuated the facility and suspended its operations on Sunday, following airstrikes targeting two other border hospitals on Thursday and an airstrike near the Barnas Hospital on Friday.
Ali al-Hafawi, a spokesperson for Ahrar a-Sham who visited the hospital following its closure and spoke to the staff, speaks to Syria Direct’s Noura al-Hourani about the decision.
What do you think is the reason for targeting medical centers and hospitals that serve civilians?
I think that the Russians and regime’s goal is to turn up the pressure on the opposition by increasing the number of people who leave Syria and go to Turkey. There is a substantial number of refugees along the Syrian side of the Turkish border as a result of warplanes targeting the Latakia [IDP] camp on Thursday. All of them will flee to Turkey or Europe if they feel un-safe.
Can you tell us more about the reasoning for evacuating the hospital?
The hospital was evacuated because there was a fear that it would be bombed, following the bombing of Yamadhaya Hospital [20 kilometers from Barnas] on Thursday, and the bombing of an area near the hospital, which has women and children in it, on Friday. There is a concern that it will be damaged in the next strike, and a desire to protect the lives of civilians.
Isn’t the hospital near the Turkish border? Why do you think we haven’t we seen any Turkish reaction?
I can’t predict a reaction from Turkey, although Turkey has responded previously to Syrian regime planes [flying in Turkish airspace]. The situation now is different because any response will be against Russian planes and it is possible Turkey doesn’t want to get caught up in an escalation with Russia at this time.