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Syria’s Darkest Hour

MADRID – The conflict in Syria becomes more complex every day that it continues, and the country’s prospects have gotten only worse. The daily horrors that Aleppo’s besieged citizens are now experiencing mark a new low point, following the collapse of the latest ceasefire, brokered by the United States and Russia, which disturbingly fell apart precisely at the same time that world leaders were gathered together for the United Nations General Assembly.

When the Syrian conflict finally ends, three of its defining features will complicate reconstruction efforts. For starters, parties on all sides of the fight have disregarded international human-rights law and violated basic humanitarian norms. In fact, blocking humanitarian aid, attacking civilians, and targeting sites specially protected by international law have become strategies of war.

Just since April, Syrian hospitals have suffered dozens of attacks, and aid has been withheld from some of the most devastated villages. Many hospitals in Aleppo have had to close after being targeted during the siege.

These actions may constitute war crimes, and they are sadly not new. In 2015 alone, medical installations in Syria affiliated with Doctors Without Borders incurred 94 attacks, leaving 23 of the organization’s workers dead and another 58 wounded. Last May, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution calling for all parties involved in Syria to respect international humanitarian law; now, Security Council members are accusing one another other of violating their own resolution.