Observers accuse Russia of missile strikes on hospitals and schools in Syria | News | DW | 15.02.2016
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Observers accuse Russia of missile strikes on hospitals and schools in Syria

Doctors Without Borders has issued a scathing condemnation of the latest missile strike on a hospital in Syria. The attack came as thousands continue to try to flee the embattled country.

Missiles slammed into several public facilities in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo on Monday, claiming more than a dozen lives.

In Azaz, a town near the Turkish border, at least five people were killed when missiles demolished a school that was sheltering families fleeing the onslaught.

Bombs also hit a children's hospital and a refugee center.

"We have been moving scores of screaming children from the hospital," medic Juma Rahal said. At least two children were killed and scores of people injured, he added.

Separately, least seven people have been killed and eight more are missing after a series of airstrikes destroyed a Doctors Without Borders hospital.

The aid organization, known by its French initials, MSF, issued a scathing response.

"This appears to be a deliberate attack on a health structure, and we condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms," said Massimiliano Rebaudengo, MSF's mission chief. "The destruction of the hospital leaves the local population of around 40,000 people without access to medical services in an active zone of conflict."

Officials from the organization believe that Russian or Syrian forces were behind the attack.

"There were at least seven deaths among the personnel and the patients, and at least eight MSF personnel have disappeared, and we don't know if they are alive," said Mego Terzian, the MSF president.

The hospital is in the northern Syrian province of Idlib, near the town of Murat al-Numan. The facility, which has been financed and supplied by MSF since September, had 54 staff members and 30 beds, two operating rooms and an emergency room.

Allegations against Russia

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at the destroyed hospital at nine and also blamed Russian warplanes for the attack.

The Observatory added that dozens more were wounded.

Backed by Russian airpower, Syrian troops have made considerable territorial gains in recent weeks, particularly in the country's northern province of Aleppo. They're aiming to recapture the country's largest city, Aleppo, which had a prewar population of more than 2.3 million residents.

"The entire building has collapsed on the ground," opposition activist Yahya al-Sobeih said via telephone from Murat al-Numan. He added that five people were killed near the clinic and "all members of the medical team inside are believed to be dead."

Hospitals in northern Syria have been devastated by a recent spate of aerial assaults. At least 10 hospitals in Aleppo province have been rendered inoperable.

bik/kms (Reuters, AP, dpa)

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