Syria: German-funded health facilities hit in government offensive | News | DW | 23.08.2019

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Syria: German-funded health facilities hit in government offensive

The Syrian government's Idlib offensive has targeted several health facilities funded by Germany, German officials say. The violence in Idlib has killed hundreds of people since late April, according to the UN.

A number of health and humanitarian facilities in the northwestern Syrian region of Idlib that receive German funding have been deliberately attacked during the Damascus government's recent offensive, two German ministries have said.

Six German-funded health-care facilities have been damaged or destroyed since April, when the offensive began, the Foreign Ministry and the Development Ministry told the German DPA news agency.

In addition, "targeted airstrikes" hit four ambulances and 12 centers run by the White Helmets rescue organization, which receives German support, they said. The attacks killed several people, including staff members of partner organizations and civilians, according to the ministries' information.

Read more: Syria's Idlib caught between hell and a hard place 

Ongoing violence

The region surrounding the city of Idlib is the last major rebel stronghold remaining in Syria from an uprising that began in 2011. It has been the target of a massive military offensive by the Syrian government supported by Russian air power since April.

The offensive put an end to a truce deal reached between Russia and Turkey in September to establish a demilitarized buffer zone in the Idlib enclave. Moscow has been assisting its ally, Syrian President Bashir Assad, to put down the rebellion, while Turkey, which has several military posts in Idlib, has sided with the rebels.

In some of the latest news on the offensive, state TV said on Friday that Syrian army troops were besieging a number of rebel-held towns and had encircled a Turkish military observation post in the town of Morek.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has been monitoring Syria's conflict, said government troops had also taken the nearby town of Kafr Zita from the rebels who had held it since 2012.

Motorbikes riding past ruined building in Idlib.

Idlib has become the focus for fighting in Syria

Refugee crisis

The offensive and the latest advances have driven tens of thousands of people from their homes. Many are currently fleeing toward Turkey, which says it has already taken in more than 3 million Syrian refugees.

Syria's civil war has its roots in peaceful anti-government protests that broke out in early 2011. It has since grown into a multiparty conflict that has drawn in a number of international players, including Russia, Turkey, Iran and the US. The conflict also involves an array of elements opposed to the Damascus government, ranging from pro-democracy activists to hard-line Islamists.

Hundreds of thousands have died in the violence and millions have been displaced, both internally and externally.

Watch video 03:06

Syrian White Helmets risk death to save lives in Idlib

tj/msh (dpa, Reuters)

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