A Russian warplane struck a first response team west of Aleppo on Monday, killing one member of the Civil Defense and wounding others, the Civil Defense announced.

The attack comes two days after an airstrike killed two members of the Civil Defense in the al-Qubba area of Aleppo city as they were evacuating wounded civilians.

The past few days have witnessed a growing number of attacks on the Civil Defense, in conjunction with intense bombing of Aleppo city and villages in the Aleppo countryside. In general, Civil Defense headquarters have been increasingly targeted since Russia intervened in the Syrian conflict in September 2015.

“The Civil Defense was targeted in several areas, injuring a large number of volunteers, including some who are no longer able to work,” the Civil Defense Directorate reported.

The Civil Defense in Aleppo faces a series of difficulties and challenges. The organization has recorded more than 39 members killed in Aleppo since it was founded in March 2013, out of a total of 127 killed across Syria.

Civil Defense teams responded to more than 2,900 calls last April, which involved dealing with 175 fires, 470 dead civilians, and 1,080 injured. Five of its members were wounded in those operations, Ibrahim Hilal, head of the Civil Defense in the Aleppo provincial council, told the Syrian Voice.

Bombing was most intense in May, when Syrian warplanes dropped 1,260 barrel bombs on the area, and Russian and Syrian planes deployed 1,700 vacuum missiles and 92 cluster bombs, in addition to 56 land-land missiles and 2,280 mortars.

The bombing-response team documented the use of napalm, which is banned internationally, by Russian warplanes beginning with Russia’s intervention in the Syrian conflict up until last July. Two hundred and forty eight areas were struck by two hundred and fifty missiles, killing four civilians, and injuring forty three more. One napalm missile struck a Civil Defense base in Hariatein north of Aleppo. 

“The Civil Defense in Aleppo city has an ambulance, fire truck, a truck to evacuate the wounded, and some light machinery, including shovels, saws, and other tools,” Ammar al-Selmu, head of the Civil Defense in Aleppo and its countryside, told the Syrian Voice.

“The Civil Defense receives support in the way of machinery, and salaries, from several European institutions, the most important being Chemonics and Mayday Rescue,” said al-Selmu.

“The Civil Defence directorate hopes to receive more aid that will help provide the most basic things required for our work, in order to improve our ability to save civilians and help them.”

There are plans underway to train staff and improve their experience in rescuing and transporting the injured, as well as securing specialized nurses to accompany ambulances, said al-Selmu. The directorate is also training a team on how to dispose of unexploded bombs and ordnance, and aims, in the future, to secure heavy machinery that will expedite the process of removing debris, and other machinery to repair main roads.

The Civil Defense has not stopped its work despite being targeted by Russian and Syrian warplanes, which conduct up to 150 raids on Aleppo alone on some days. First responders will not cease their work under any circumstances, unless they stop receiving support or are forced to because of the siege, said al-Selmu.

The Civil Defense in Aleppo is divided into five sectors, each of which contains four centers. The organization employs 511 employees, and conducts 15 types of missions including rescuing the wounded, putting out fires, searching for people under rubble, and disposing of the remains of bombs and mortars.

الدفاع المدني2