Pro-Government strikes on M2 hospital, Aleppo, Syria
According to the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), the Omar Bin Abdul Aziz Hospital, also known as M2, was subject to fourteen strikes by pro-government forces from June to December 2016. The strikes were predominantly carried out by air to surface missiles, but also included illegal cluster munitions, barrel bombs, naval mines, and artillery. The hospital sustained significant damage over this six-month period, which rendered it out of service many times. According to the UN, M2 Hospital was one of only three hospitals left in Aleppo by mid-August 2016 that was offering intensive care facilities and the only hospital with a paediatric department.
Photographs and videos taken in and around the hospital facilitated our analysis of some of the consequences of these strikes. Each piece of footage captured only a small part of the building; however, by combining and cross-referencing these clips we were able to reconstruct the architecture of the building as a 3D model and locate the exact sites of the bombings and the resultant damage. The model became the medium through which we could navigate between various images and videos of the incidents in order to produce a cohesive narrative of destruction.
There are a number of CCTV cameras in the hospital that are continuously on, capturing every strike. We located each camera and its orientation in the building in order to integrate footage from the CCTV cameras, handheld videos, and photographs within virtual space. Identifying the location of each video created a tangible connection between these media, which enabled us to verify the position and direction of each camera and situated it in relation to others.
Analysis of one particular video showing workers moving from the inside to the outside of the building was essential in geolocating the hospital, as it revealed a common characteristic of the built environment seen in satellite imagery. The spatial link created as a result of this investigation allowed us to anchor all footage to this exact location and to corroborate the range and multiplicity of the strikes, raising questions about the intent behind this destructive pattern of events.
SAMS estimates that 2016 was the most dangerous year for health workers in Syria. The group verified 73 attacks on medical facilities and personnel in besieged Aleppo between June and December 2016, fourteen of which targeted M2 on the following dates:
3 June 2016
14 June 2016
14 July 2016
16 July 2016
1 August 2016
5 August 2016
11 August 2016
23 September 2016
26 September 2016
28 September 2016
18 November 2016
4 December 2016
14 December 2016
Forensic Architecture team
- Eyal Weizman (principal investigator)
- Christina Varvia (project coordinator)
- Adam Noah (research, 3D modelling, video editing)
- Nicholas Masterton (image projection, animation, video editing)
- Samaneh Moafi (analysis, video editing)
- Atlantic Council
Report Rebuts Russia’s Claims of Restraint in Syrian Bombing Campaign | New York Times, 12 Feb 2017
3D model built to prove Aleppo hospital attack | CNN, 13 Feb 2017