Deadly Attack on IDP Camp in Northwest Syria Reconfirms Need for Safe Zone
Syrian American Council calls for an end to the violence and immediate political transition
WASHINGTON D.C., NOVEMBER 21, 2019 – In a horrific act of violence Wednesday night, two ballistic missiles carrying cluster munitions were launched at the crowded al-Qah camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northwest Syria, near the Turkish border. The missiles are believed to have originated from an Iranian militia base outside of Aleppo city.
The attacks damaged the IDP camp’s maternity hospital, forcing the evacuation of patients and staff, and set dozens of tents in the camp on fire. At least 16 civilians were killed, many of them children, and more than 60 were wounded, including medical staff. As rescuers continue to search through the rubble, the number of dead and wounded is expected to rise.
“The world has grown tired, or perhaps immune to, the suffering of Syrians, but the scenes from last night in al-Qah are shocking even by Syrian standards,” said Suzanne Meriden, executive director of the Syrian American Council. “With images like these, of innocent children and civilians, it’s difficult to comprehend how world leaders can sit back and not take action.”
Videos from the aftermath of last night’s attack on al-Qah camp show medical staff rushing to treat the screaming, bloody, injured and dying infants, scattered across the floor inside the hospital; while outside, first responders and camp residents desperately try to put out the wall of flames with buckets of water, as dead bodies lay in the dirt nearby.
The maternity hospital in al-Qah camp was part of the U.N.-led deconfliction mechanism, which meant that the Syrian government and its allies knew the exact location of the hospital but bombed it anyway. The people living in al-Qah camp hoped that their proximity to the Turkish border would keep them safe from the bombs and bloodshed. But these attacks show that no one – not even civilians living in the misery of an IDP camp – can be safe in Assad’s Syria.
The Syrian American Council demands an end to these attacks on civilians in northwest Syria, and reiterates its calls for a safe zone in the north and an immediate political transition. It is clear that these steps are the only way that Syrian people can live safely in their own country. The Syrian American Council also calls on the U.N. Secretary-General to open an investigation into Wednesday night’s attack, and other recent violations of the deconfliction system, so that the responsible parties can be held accountable.
Michelle R. Taylor