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This map shows the Syrian regime’s war on doctors

(Physicians for Human Rights)

It's become a worrying yet established fact that doctors and other medical staff are often caught in the middle of Syria's bloody civil war. One report published last year by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic noted that medical staff were being "deliberately targeted and are treated by parties to the conflict as military objectives."

According to data compiled and mapped by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) and released  Wednesday, there have been at least 150 attacks on medical facilities since the Syrian civil war began. The nonprofit says government forces were behind 90 precent of them.

According to PHR's research, at least 460 civilian health professionals have been killed since the crisis begun, including at least 157 doctors, 94 nurses, 84 medics and 45 pharmacists. Around 41 percent died during shelling and bombings, 31 percent were shot and 13 percent died as a result of torture.

You can see data on the map below (or view a larger version at this link). Blue dots represent an attack by government forces, yellow by opposition forces and green is used where the perpetrators are unknown.

You can also see how the problem progressed in this time lapse.

It's a damning accusation from the PHR, who note that deliberate attacks on physicians and medical facilities would contravene the Geneva Convention. Perhaps importantly, health systems in Syria have been left decimated, with almost 15,000 doctors believed to have fled abroad, and half of all public hospitals reportedly damaged or destroyed.

“The systematic nature of these attacks reflects the government’s indifference to the health and life of civilians, which has created a public health crisis that will haunt Syria for years,” Erin Gallagher, PHR’s director of emergency investigations and response, said in a statement. “Doctors and nurses who are committed to caring for everyone, regardless of political beliefs, are being killed while trying to save lives under grueling circumstances.”

The total number of deaths in Syria's bloody civil war are disputed, but most sources agree at least 100,000 people have died  over the past three years.

Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University.



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