Wednesday 26 July 2017

Air strikes cripple hospitals in eastern Aleppo

The WHO representative in Syria said a UN-led group of aid agencies based over the border in Turkey yesterday “confirmed all hospitals in eastern Aleppo are out of service”. Photo: Reuters
The WHO representative in Syria said a UN-led group of aid agencies based over the border in Turkey yesterday “confirmed all hospitals in eastern Aleppo are out of service”. Photo: Reuters

Angus McDowall

All hospitals in Syria's besieged rebel-held eastern Aleppo are out of service after days of heavy air strikes, its health directorate and the World Health Organisation (WHO) said this weekend, but a war monitor said some were still working.

"This destruction of infrastructure essential to life leaves the besieged, resolute people, including all children and elderly men and women, without health facilities offering life-saving treatment, leaving them to die," said Aleppo's health directorate in a statement sent to Reuters by an opposition official.

The WHO representative in Syria said a UN-led group of aid agencies based over the border in Turkey yesterday "confirmed all hospitals in eastern Aleppo are out of service".

However, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said that some hospitals were still operating in the besieged parts of Aleppo but that many residents were frightened to use them because of shelling.

Medical sources, residents and rebels in eastern Aleppo say hospitals have been damaged by air strikes and helicopter barrel bombs in recent days, including direct hits on the buildings.

Intense air strikes have battered eastern Aleppo since Tuesday when the Syrian army and its allies resumed operations after a pause lasting weeks. They launched ground attacks against insurgent positions on Friday.

Syrian state television said on Tuesday that the air force had targeted "terrorist strongholds and supply depots" in Aleppo. Russia has said its air force is only conducting air strikes in other parts of Syria. The Damascus government describes all the rebels fighting it as terrorists.

Both countries have denied deliberately targeting hospitals and other civilian infrastructure during the war, which began in 2011 and was joined by Russia's air force in September 2015. The war pits President Bashar al-Assad backed by Russia, Iran and Shia militias against a medley of Sunni rebels including groups supported by the US, Turkey and Gulf monarchies, as well as jihadist groups.

Aleppo, for years split between a rebel-held east and government-held western sector, has become the fiercest front in the five-year conflict.

© Reuters

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