UN, World Leaders, Human Rights Group Condemn Attacks On Hospitals, Schools In Syria

The UN has strongly condemned the Monday missile attacks on hospitals and schools in Syria, which killed almost 50 people, including many children.

It said on Tuesday that some of the attacks were apparently carried out by Russian forces supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

UN Envoy, Staffan de’Mistura, said in Damascus where he was expected to press the case for the truce and a resumption of peace talks in Geneva, that at least five hospitals and two schools were hit in Monday’s missile strikes.

The envoy said it was unfortunate that this was happening days before an internationally backed truce was slated to start.

He said the UN suspended peace talks in Geneva earlier this month, amid opposition fury as a government offensive backed by Russian airstrikes broke rebel lines north of Aleppo and sent tens of thousands of civilians fleeing.

Al-Assad, however, cast doubts on the prospect of the ceasefire coming into effect on Friday, as announced last week by world powers at an international security conference in Munich.

“Now they say they want a ceasefire within a week, fine, but who is able to draw together all these conditions and requirements within a week, nobody.

Al-Assad charged that the push by Western powers for a ceasefire came only in response to losses on the ground by rebel factions they support.

The medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reported earlier that seven people were killed and eight others were presumed dead in a strike on a hospital it supported in Maarat al-Nuaman, south of Aleppo.

It denounced the incident as a deliberate attack on health structures, but did not specify who was responsible.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition monitoring group, said in London that it appeared that the missile attacks were carried out by Russian forces.

The observatory said another apparently Russian airstrike hit a second hospital in the town, killing two nurses.

It also reported that Russian strikes near a school and a hospital in the town of A’zaz, in Aleppo province near the Turkish border, killed 10 people, including three children.

It said the Kurdish-led forces backed by Russian and government airstrikes had continued to advance, seizing Tel Rifaat, one of three remaining rebel-held towns between Aleppo and the border.

According to medics, at least 10 hospitals in Aleppo province are no longer functional as a result of heavy damage from airstrikes.

“The airstrikes on medical facilities in rebel-held territory are all thought to have been carried out by Russian and Syrian forces.

The European Union has condemned the attacks, saying they followed series of similar assaults against civilian infrastructure happening on an almost daily basis across Syria.

“This is clear violation of international humanitarian law.

“In the case of Syria, these systematic assaults have already broken the country’s health system, which suffers from a severe lack of treatment and medicine,” EU said.

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has on Tuesday in Belgium called for the introduction of a no-fly zone in Syria.

She insisted that in the current situation it would be helpful if there were a field to which none of the warring factions can launch attacks by air, a kind of no-fly zone.

Russia, a major ally of Syria, started its strikes in Syria on Sept. 30.

The Russian-backed government offensive had earlier this month cut off rebels in Aleppo city from vital supply lines to the Turkish border, putting the city at risk of being besieged. (dpa/NAN)

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