AMMAN: A regime airstrike struck the only field hospital operating in the Khan a-Sheh Palestinian refugee camp on Tuesday, two camp residents told Syria Direct.
On Tuesday, regime warplanes conducted at least 16 air raids targeting Khan a-Sheh, while artillery regiments pounded the camp with mortar shells from four positions, the residents said.
One air strike registered a direct hit on the Doctor a-Ziyad Biqai Hospital, the only medical facility serving Khan a-Sheh’s 12,000 residents, 3,000 of whom are children.
The bombing follows a renewed military campaign by regime forces to capture the rebel-held camp, located 25km southwest of Damascus, that began last week and has killed at least 22 people and cut off the only road leading in and out of the area.
The regime is taking advantage of “weaknesses among the rebels on the al-Quneitra front, to the south of Khan a-Sheh, to attack the camp,” Abdullah Zakia, a Khan a-Sheh area resident told Syria Direct on Wednesday.
Watch: Regime airstrikes hit Khan a-Sheh Palestinian refugee camp
The videos included in this report are circulating in the Arabic media and purportedly show airstrikes on Khan a-Sheh. Syria Direct cannot independently confirm the videos’ veracity.
Watch: Aftermath of air strike on Doctor a-Ziyad Biqai Hospital
The Syrian army and allied militias partially encircled Khan a-Sheh, militarily controlled by Ahrar a-Sham, Jabhat a-Nusra and Free Syrian Army (FSA) brigades, in March 2013. Since that time, camp residents have relied on a dirt road to the nearby town of Zakia to access medicine and food, according to the independent monitor Siege Watch, a joint initiative of PAX and The Syria Institute.
Camp residents refer to the dirt route as the “road of death,” due to the shelling and sniper fire that regularly claim travelers’ lives.
Now, even the dangerous road to Zakia is cut off, and food and medicine are quickly running out, Khan a-Sheh residents told Syria Direct Wednesday.
International aid organizations are calling for access to the Khan a-Sheh area.
“The roads and access to the camp must urgently be reopened and vital humanitarian aid immediately allowed in,” said Sonia Kush, Director of Save the Children’s Syria program, in a statement released last week.
“Only one doctor and one dentist are believed to remain in the camp, and do not have enough medicine, equipment and electricity needed to treat patients,” said Kush in the same statement, released prior to the bombing of the Biqai hospital.
The bombing of Khan a-Sheh continued Wednesday as regime helicopters pitched 25 barrel bombs onto the camp.
“The regime is madly bombing everything,” Raed Taamah, a spokesman for the FSA-affiliated Seif a-Sham brigade in Khan a-Sheh, told Syria Direct on Wednesday.