Bombed hospital was front for French intelligence, says Syria
Syria's representative at the UN has defended Russia and the Assad regime from accusations that they bombed a Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital on Monday by saying the organisation is a front for French intelligence.
The MSF hospital in the north-western, rebel-held province of Idlib was bombed twice with two missiles each time on Monday morning. Five patients, including a child, five members of hospital staff and a caretaker were killed, with two members of staff still missing.
MSF said there may be more bodies under the rubble. It accused Russian bombers of deliberately targeting the hospital.
But Russia has denied it was responsible, and accused MSF of being part of an attempt to fabricate accusations to blacken Moscow's name.
On Tuesday night, Bashar al-Jaafari, the Syria ambassador to the UN in New York and chief negotiator for the regime at peace talks, was also asked about the attack.
"The so-called hospital was installed without any prior consultation with the Syrian government by the so-called French network called MSF which is a branch of the French intelligence operating in Syria," he said.
The hospital in Idlib was one of five hit on Monday, said to be the worst day for such targets being struck for six months. Two schools were also hit.
The destruction of medical facilities prompted worldwide outrage. But Russia issued an immediate denial.
"We categorically do not accept such statements, the more so as every time those making these statements are unable to prove their unfounded accusations in any way," said Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin's press secretary.
The Syrian ambassador to Moscow went so far as to claim that the strikes had been carried out by the United States.
Russia's defence ministry claimed the whole incident was a "fabrication", basing the claim on the fact that MSF had put out a separate statement criticising attacks on hospitals last week - which the ministry said was a reference to Monday's alleged attack released early by accident. (© Daily Telegraph London)