"Hospitals have become part of the battlefield. It has become, in the eyes of some combatants, a legitimate target," said Jason Cone of Doctors Without Borders in the documentary, "an incredibly important facet of where we define some sense of humanity amidst all this chaos is really getting eroded away."
On April 7, more than 70 people were killed in Syria in a chemical attack by the Assad regime just outside of Damascus, according to medics and rescue workers. "Attacking innocent civilians in Syria with chemical weapons is a gross violation of humanity and utterly immoral," responded Philippe Nassif, the executive director of In Defence of Christians in a press release on April 12. Following the chemical attack, Catholic Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai in Lebanon called on the international community to "work to end the war and to achieve a just, comprehensive and lasting peace through political and diplomatic means."
"No one has behaved in the way that the Russians/Syrians have in intentional infliction of human rights violations, killing, manslaughter, gas, in the case of Bashar al Assad," said Senator John McCain in the CSIS documentary, calling the Assad regime's actions unprecedented in the post-Cold War era. The Geneva Conventions declared that medical establishments, including mobile medical units, may in no circumstance be attacked, but must be protected by all involved in armed conflict.
The United Nations Security Council passed a 2016 resolution condemning attacks on medical facilities and personnel in conflict zones, however, the attacks on hospitals in Syria have persisted.
"The NGO logo that used to be a protection has became a target. It attracts attacks," said Rabih Torbay, the president of Project Hope.
Doctors have started to operate underground in Syria and surgeons have made covert trips into the country to treat those in need of medical aid. "Doctors started to establish their hospitals in secret places, in chicken farms, in factories, deserted buildings, in the basements of churches and mosques," remembered Dr. Zaher Salhoul in a documentary interview. Salhoul is founder and executive director of American Relief Coalition for Syria.
At an April 13 screening of the documentary at the Embassy of Sweden to the United States, retired General John Allen explained that the U.S. military seeks to act in accordance with international law in these types of conflicts.