Assad Targets Civilians, Hospitals Amid Defeats in Syrian War

Bashar al-Assad / AP

The Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad is systematically targeting civilians and hospitals, often with chemical weapons, to reverse recent setbacks in the country’s civil war, witnesses told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

Assad’s forces have suffered a number of battlefield defeats in recent months, with the Islamic State and the al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra gaining ground north of the capital Damascus and more moderate rebel groups achieving victories in the south. The Syrian army has also lost about half of its soldiers throughout the course of the four-year civil war and has increasingly relied on outside militant groups such as Hezbollah.