For Immediate Release
November 19, 2015
Washington, DC – Beginning at 10am on Thursday, November 19, airstrikes, surface-to-surface missiles, and cluster bombs hit civilian areas of besieged Douma, East Ghouta, leading to the deaths of 19 people including one doctor. Dr. Mohamad Taha Allamadani was killed in a strike on a primary health center in Douma. He was the only forensic doctor left working inside of besieged East Ghouta. At least 75 people were injured in the attacks.
These attacks come the morning after social media rumors of a truce and ceasefire between the Syrian government and local armed opposition groups in East Ghouta. Airstrikes on civilian areas began at 10am, followed shortly by surface-to-surface missiles. When rescue teams began to move into the affected areas, cluster bombs began to fall. A primary health center and ambulance were struck and damaged in the attacks. “Between 10am and 2pm, there were a total of 16 airstrikes, 2 surface-to-surface missiles, and 7 cluster bombs aimed at civilian areas of Douma. Civilians forget how it is to live for even 24 hours without bombing or shelling in Douma – what it is like to hear birds sing in the morning or drink a cup of coffee without hearing explosions. This is daily life in Douma,” said Dr. Majed Abou Ali, SAMS Protection Officer and Public Relations Director for the United Medical Office of East Ghouta.
For more than three years, East Ghouta has been under siege and access to food, electricity, water, and medical care has been denied. SAMS calls for immediate humanitarian access to be allowed into East Ghouta and all besieged and hard-to-reach areas, mandated under UNSC Resolutions 2165 and 2191. There is a grave and immediate need for medical aid convoys to be allowed entry into the besieged areas of Rural Damascus.
Attacks on civilians, medical personnel, or medical facilities constitute grave violations of international humanitarian law. SAMS strongly condemns these aerial attacks in Douma, and all attacks against health workers and hospitals. “Our thoughts are with the family, friends, and colleagues of Dr. Taha Allamadani. He was an invaluable medical and public health leader. Attacks against doctors and healthcare are grave violations of international law, and this has become the norm in Syria. All members of the international community, especially UN Security Council members, must push to ensure that all parties to the conflict respect international humanitarian law immediately,” said Dr. Ahmad Tarakji, SAMS President. SAMS calls for the UN Security Council to act with urgency and enforce its own resolutions, particularly UNSC Resolution 2139 calling for an end to attacks on civilians and respect for medical neutrality.
For media requests, please contact SAMS’s Advocacy and Communications Manager Kat Fallon at [email protected] or by phone at 202-854-1394.