Authored By: Dr. Houssam Al-Nahhas, CBRN-TF Coordinator, Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations

An outside observer can clearly see the effectiveness of the Russia-Turkey cease-fire agreement in reducing the bloodshed all around Syria, which is directly reflected on the medical work where primary care services are prioritized over traumatic emergency services. This is a good impact as it will directly increase the quality of services and improve access to these services.

On the other hand, the nature of the conflict and its parties make it, according to experts, a relative one. This means that the medical sector in the opposition-controlled areas will gradually lose its readiness to deal with war-related injuries. At the same time, it means that some political and military actors will work to undermine this stability and thus turn back to the stage of large-scale military action and subsequent violations of human rights and International law.

Because it is difficult to disrupt equilibrium by conventional military action or direct targeting, the pretext of unconventional attacks becomes the most likely option.

On November 25th, an attack using a non-conventional weapon in Aleppo City was reported by broadcasting footages from hospitals that received the victims which included testimonies from eyewitnesses, victims and medical staff. The authorities in Damascus with their allies announced that the opposition is behind this attack as an evidence of their possession of chemical agents. The opposition, at the same time denied this claim and even accused the government forces of fabricating the attack to use it as an excuse to undermine the cease-fire agreement.

If I want to speak objectively here, the problem now lies not in identifying the perpetrator, but in the new old problem of the question: Is the medical and international system ready to respond?

The answer clearly is: “no.”

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