The bombing of Al Quds and the failed ceasefire

As doctors working on the frontlines of the war in Aleppo, we viewed the cessation of hostilities that was brokered in February with scepticism. Over the last week, our worst fears were driven home in the most horrific circumstances. The city is bleeding.

On Wednesday, Syrian or Russian jets bombed the Al Quds hospital in eastern Aleppo city. At least 30 people lost their lives, at least 60 more were injured, and our friends at the White Helmets continue to pull bodies out from the rubble. Among those killed in the attack our dear friend and colleague, Dr. Muhmmad Wassim Maaz.

We will always remember Dr. Maaz as the kindest and bravest of souls, whose devotion to treating the youngest victims of this war was unparalleled. That attack robbed eastern Aleppo of its last remaining paediatricians, and we considered Dr. Wassim one of the best paediatricians left inside of Syria. It was another deadly reminder that those attacking Aleppo have no regard for the sanctity of life or humanity.

Another dear friend, Dr. Mohammed Ahmad, one of the ten dentists remaining in eastern Aleppo, was also killed in the airstrikes. He joins Dr. Maaz and at least 730 of our Syrian colleagues who were killed in Syria over the last five years. Our heroic colleagues at the White Helmets have similarly suffered grave losses for risking their lives to save others. Just one day before Dr. Ahmad and Dr. Maaz were killed, the Al-Alareb Training Center of the White Helmets, was hit by multiple surface-to-surface airstrikes, killing five of their volunteers: Ahmad Abdullah, Khaled Bashar, Ahmad Mahmoud, Hamdo Haj Ibrahim, and Hussain Ismail.

Soon there will no medical professionals at all left in Aleppo – where will civilians turn to for care and attention?

In a two day period this week, nearly four people were killed every hour and over fifty injured. Our hospitals are at breaking point. If this isn’t a sign that the cessation of hostilities has failed then we do not know what is.

Russia and the US made what they said were firm commitments to see a cessation of hostilities take hold and endure, but they are now failing on those commitments and it is the women, children and elderly of Aleppo who are paying the heaviest price.

While a ceasefire is by no means a lasting solution to the crisis, reinforcing it might help stave off further massacres like the attack on Al Quds Hospital and a complete siege of Aleppo. If Aleppo were to be besieged it could result in a disaster akin to the scale of Srebrenica.

Russia claims it is serious about peace, so it now must live up to its obligations and ensure that airstrikes against the city stop and a cessation of hostilities takes hold and is respected by all parties.

If Russian and international pressure can bring an end to the assault against Aleppo it will be a positive step, but more needs to be done. As medical professionals, we are struggling every day to access the vital supplies we need to treat the injured and dying. Supplies coming from Castello Road, the only road from which humanitarian supplies in eastern Aleppo can be accessed, has been disrupted for months and is now barely functional. The US should use its leverage to ensure this essential supply route is not impeded again.

As co-leads of the ISSG, events unfolding are happening on the watch of Presidents Putin and Obama. They have the power and responsibility to protect civilians. We hope and pray they will use it, for the sake of Syria, Aleppo, our patients and ourselves.

Syrians Appeal for Civilian Protection As Aleppo Comes Under Attack

“We are being left to die as the world watches.”

The people of Aleppo need the international community’s protection. In the past week, the Assad regime and its allies have escalated their bombings of civilian homes and hospitals across Aleppo, killing more than 200 civilians in the process. We, as representatives of Syrian civil society and humanitarian groups, strongly condemn the indiscriminate killing of civilians in Syria and demand civilian protection. Without the international community’s protection and concrete action to stop the bombs across Aleppo, where 250,000 people still remain, there is a very real chance that Aleppo will be entirely destroyed and more will die.

The international community’s failure to prioritize our protection amounts to a death sentence. We are being left to die as the world watches.

In spite of the Syrian Cessation of Hostilities, one Syrian is being killed every 25 minutes. In Aleppo on Wednesday 27 April, at least 50 patients, medics and doctors were killed, including the last remaining Pediatrician of Aleppo, Dr. Wassim, after the Syrian regime bombed Al Quds hospital. Just two days earlier, on April 25, five rescue workers from the White Helmets were killed during regime airstrikes on Atareb, western Aleppo province. The attack came shortly after Russian airstrikes that killed ten civilians in Aleppo. A week earlier, the Syrian regime launched attacks in a marketplace in Maarat al-Numan in Idlib province that left dozens dead, including many women and children.

The Syrian regime is deliberately targeting civilians and hospitals. It is intentionally destroying medical facilities, schools, and marketplaces in an effort to bomb civilians into submission. People the Syrian regime cannot kill by air, it starves on land. Assad’s troops continue to besiege civilian towns across the country, where they impose deliberate starvation methods and confiscate medical relief items from aid convoys. As a result of these sieges, more than 18 cities and towns across Syria are under siege. But just one area—Dier Ezzor—receives airdrops. For months, we have appealed to the international community to airdrop aid to all besieged areas, including to Homs and Hama. Our calls have gone unanswered.

We do not understand why we are being condemned to death when there are concrete steps that the international community could take to protect us. We appeal to the international community to prioritize our protection and do what it takes to stop the bombs across Syria. Help us save our Syria. More lives need not be lost.


• Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression • Independent Doctors Association •
• Baytna Syria • Union of Syrian Civil Society Organizations • Zaytoon • Peace and Justice for Syria •
• Dr Amer Masri • Alaa Basatneh • SAY • Zaad • Syrian Welsh Society • Rethink Rebuild Society •
• Syria Solidarity UK • Scotland4Syria • Help4Syria • Syrian Society in Nottinghamshire •
• Syrian Platform for Peace • Kurds House •

Letter to President Putin on airstrikes

Vladimir Putin
President of the Russian Federation 4 Staraya Square
Moscow 103132

President Putin,

24 February 2016

This letter is written on behalf of more than 200 Syrian civil society organisations and relief groups, who together provide life-saving humanitarian assistance and services to millions of Syrians. Our organizations have watched your forces brutalize our nation and terrorize our people. Today, and every day, we demand that you remove your murderous foreign forces from Syria – our country.

For four long months, your country has bombed ours. Following your orders, your air forces have killed more than 1,500 of our civilians. They have deliberately destroyed our schools and hospitals. They have committed war crimes and violated the very same Security Council resolutions that your country adopted. Our people will never accept your intervention. Russian forces must leave Syria.

Through your actions and your alliances, you have made your country complicit in Assad’s war on civilians. You have repeatedly violated the most fundamental principles of international humanitarian law, including Article 3, common to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Security Council resolutions 2258 (2015), 2254 (2015), 2209 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2139 (2014). Across Syria, Russian forces have deliberately targeted and attacked hospitals, medical units and healthcare personnel, despite their explicit protection under international humanitarian law. In Aleppo, your forces bombed a water treatment facility, and your cluster bombs have targeted our schools.

Mr. President, you have said you are in Syria at the invitation of the Syrian regime and with the goal of defeating terrorism. But your invitation to Syria came from a brutal war criminal who barrel bombs children, gasses civilians, and drives millions into refuge. Since your forces arrived in Syria, they have killed anyone and anything but ISIS. Independent monitors report 97 percent of your victims are civilians—not terrorists. In fact, ISIS has only grown stronger since your forces came to Syria.

If you were serious about defeating ISIS, you would order your forces to stop killing the moderate Syrians who are best placed to defeat terror. You would disavow your alliance with a war criminal. And you would withdraw from Syria, because you are not and will never be welcome.

We are urging Member States to take action to deter your bombing and to protect Syrian civilians. We are also urging the establishment of accountability mechanisms for all war crimes perpetrated in Syria, including by foreign forces. Those mechanisms should, among others, target those responsible for command and control at the highest levels of decision-making.

To achieve this, we have sent a copy of this letter to the President of the Security Council to be circulated as an official document.


Union of Syrian Civil Society Organisations – representing 92 Syrian civil society organisations in Daraa, Al-Quneitera, Al-Sweida and the Damascus countryside
Syrian General Union of Relief Organisations – representing 120 Syrian charities and relief organisations
Independent Doctors Association – a non-governmental organization of Syrian doctors who provide emergency health assistance for the most vulnerable population in Aleppo governorate
Syrian Women’s Network
Syrian Nonviolence Movement
Rethink Rebuild Society
Palestinian League for Human Rights – Syria
Rami Jarrah, ANA Press
Aref Alkrez, Supporting Abilities and Motivate Awareness (SAMA)                                                                                           Mazen Ejbaei, Help4Syria
Amjad Selo, Syrian Society in Nottinghamshire
Mohammad Alhadj Ali, Syrian Welsh Society
Reem Assil, Syrian Platform for Peace
Dr. Sharif Kaf Al-Ghazal, Syrian Association of Yorkshire
Dr. Fadel Moghrabi, Peace and Justice for Syria
Amer Masri, Scotland4Syria
Clara Connolly, Syria Solidarity UK
Dr. Mohammad Tammo, Kurds House

Free Syrian Lawyers Association


Read the statement on Save Our Syria.

Human Rights Watch | ”Syria: Great Danger to Civilians in Azaz Hospitals, School Hit, No Place to Flee for Civilians”

Attacks on Azaz and a neighboring town in northern Aleppo, Syria, hit two hospitals and a school used by displaced Syrians, killing at least 20 civilians. Witness statements and evidence of the aftermath indicates that the attacks on February 15, which also wounded 38, were part of the joint Russian-Syrian offensive in the area.

According to the United Nations, between February 1 and 16, at least 70,000 civilians fled the offensive to cut access between Aleppo city and the Turkish border. The area around Azaz has become the center of a multisided battle between various local, regional, and international a

A representative of the Independent Doctors Association, which runs a field hospital on the Syrian side of the Syria-Turkey border, told Human Rights Watch the hospital received 49 injured people on February 15, after attacks on Azaz, Kaljabrin, and Tel Refaat, another town nearby.

Full Human Rights Watch report here: