syria - Reuters - October 7 2011
Demonstrators protesting against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad march through the streets after Friday prayers in Homs, October 7, 2011. Photo by Reuters
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Amnesty International said Tuesday that Bashar Assad’s regime is targeting patients and medical staff in Syria hospitals who it believes are members of the opposition.

In a report entitled “Health Crisis: Syrian Government Targets the Wounded and Health Workers,” Amnesty claimed that patients in at least the National Hospitals in Banias, Homs and Tell Kalakh and the military hospital in Homs, have experienced torture at the hands of security forces and medical workers.

“The Syrian authorities have turned hospitals and medical staff into instruments of repression in the course of their efforts to crush the unprecedented mass protests and demonstrations that have wracked the country since March 2011,” the report said.

“People wounded in protests or other incidents related to the uprising have been verbally abused and physically assaulted in state-run hospitals, including by medical staff, and in some cases denied medical care, in gross breach of medical ethics, and many of those taken to hospitals have been detained,” according to the report.

Regime security forces have obstructed ambulances taking the wounded to hospitals, and have even interrogate patients being transported in ambulances, the report claimed.

People with injuries related to the anti-government unrest, including those with firearm injuries, have been directed by the Ministry of Defense controlled military hospital.

“Such patients have been treated effectively as detainees while in the hospital and held incommunicado,” according to the report.

Security forces have also targeted medical staff for treating injured people, as well as on suspicion of attending demonstrations or filming protesters.

“Such actions flagrantly violate Syria's obligations under international human rights law,” Amnesty International said.

International calls for action against the Assad regime’s repression of the Syrian people have been increasing.

European Union leaders at the Brussels Summit on Sunday warned Syria over the regime’s ‘repression of the civilian population,’ saying they would tighten restrictions and impose further sanctions on Syria if it continued to repress its population.

The 6-month-old uprising in Syria shows no sign of slowing down, despite the brutal government crackdown that the UN estimates has killed some 2,200 people since March.