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Attacks in Syria and Yemen are turning disease into a weapon of war

The weaponization of disease in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen is causing outbreaks of cholera, polio, measles, and other public health catastrophes.
A cholera-infected man receives treatment at a hospital in Sanaa, Yemen, in May.

Barely two decades ago, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia first treated rape and sexual assault as distinct war crimes. That decision revolutionized our understanding of rape as a weapon of war, leading in 1997 to the first-ever prosecution of rape as a war crime in Rwanda.

Today we are seeing another cruel method of warfare emerge on the battlefield: the weaponization of disease, particularly in Syria and Yemen.

Targeting health care facilities during conflict has occurred before. But unlike the attacks on hospital ships during World War I

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