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Air-launched missiles strike hospitals in Syria

Beirut: Air strikes hit four hospitals in rebel-held northern Syria on Monday, including child and maternity facilities, international aid officials and witnesses reported. The United Nations said at least 50 people were killed, including children.

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'Russian' missiles strike hospital

Doctors Without Borders says at least eight hospital staff and patients in Syria died and others were still missing, after air strikes hit hospitals on Tuesday.

It was unclear who was responsible for the attacks, which came days before international powers have called for a "cessation of hostilities" in the five-year Syria war. Russian and Syrian aircraft operate in the areas where the hospitals were struck.

Two of the four hospitals were supported by UNICEF. UNICEF's executive director Anthony Lake said in a statement, "Apart from compelling considerations of diplomacy and obligations under international humanitarian law, let us remember that these victims are children."

​Farhan Haq, a spokesman for the United Nations in New York, told reporters that the death toll was 50.

Doctors Without Borders, the international medical charity, said the air strikes destroyed one of the hospitals it supports, killing at least seven, wounding eight and leaving an unknown number of patients buried in rubble.

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The hospital, in the town of Maarat al-Noaman, in insurgent-held Idlib province, was hit by four missiles in two sets of attacks within a few minutes of each other, the charity said, citing reports by hospital staff members.

It was the second time in a week that a hospital working with the charity was hit. The charity said an affiliated hospital was bombed in Dara'a Province in southern Syria on February 9.

A wounded Syrian man is carried to a hospital in Kilis, Turkey. An air strike in the northern Syrian province of Idlib ...
A wounded Syrian man is carried to a hospital in Kilis, Turkey. An air strike in the northern Syrian province of Idlib destroyed a makeshift clinic supported by an international aid group on Monday. Photo: AP

"This appears to be a deliberate attack on a health structure, and we condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms," Doctors Without Borders head of Syrian mission Massimiliano Rebaudengo said about Monday's strike on the charity's affiliate. Deliberate attacks on medical facilities are forbidden under international law.

The hospital had 30 beds, 54 staff, two operating rooms, clinics and an emergency room, and its destruction leaves 40,000 people without medical care, the charity said.

Syrians fleeing a government offensive and Russian air strikes try to cross the border into Turkey  this month.
Syrians fleeing a government offensive and Russian air strikes try to cross the border into Turkey this month. Photo: Getty Images

Anti-government activists and residents said warplanes also attacked three other hospitals on Monday. Three people were killed and six wounded in one, the National Hospital, which is also in Maarat al-Noaman. And in Azaz, a major prize in the fierce battles unfolding in Aleppo province, two hospitals were hit, at least one of them by what residents and the Turkish government said was a ballistic missile.

New York Times

Syrians fleeing Russian air strikes arrive at the Bab al-Salam border crossing with Turkey.
Syrians fleeing Russian air strikes arrive at the Bab al-Salam border crossing with Turkey. Photo: AP

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