A new UN reports says that government forces in Syria have been using denial of healthcare as a "weapon of war": shelling hospitals, refusing treatment to people from rebel-controlled areas, and detaining and torturing patients—sometimes to death. The report says anti-government rebels are also guilty of attacking hospitals and targeting medical workers, albeit on a smaller scale. "The denial of medical care as a weapon of war is a distinct and chilling reality of the war in Syria," says the report, per the New York Times.
In one case highlighted in the report, the National Hospital in Deraa was occupied by government forces for two years, with snipers stationed on the roof to fire at any wounded who came for help, reports Reuters. At Military Hospital No. 601 in Damascus, "detainees, including children, have been beaten, burned with cigarettes and subjected to torture that exploits pre-existing injuries," reports the Times. The report was dropped as UN chief Ban Ki-moon slammed Bashar al-Assad at what he thought was a private event, saying the Syrian President had "carried out many crimes against humanity" and that he would be held accountable once the war was over, reports Al Jazeera.