Friday 26 May 2017

Five French charity staff are killed in airstrike on Aleppo clinic

Syrian men rescue a baby from the rubble of a destroyed building following a reported air strike in the Qatarji neighbourhood of the northern city of Aleppo yesterday. Photo: Getty
Syrian men rescue a baby from the rubble of a destroyed building following a reported air strike in the Qatarji neighbourhood of the northern city of Aleppo yesterday. Photo: Getty

Con Coughlin

At least five staff from a French medical charity have been killed after their clinic in northern Syria was hit by an airstrike, the latest in an eruption of violence since the breakdown of a week-long truce brokered by the US and Russia.

The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations, known by the French acronym UOSSM, said three nurses and two ambulances drivers were killed when their medical facility was bombed outside Aleppo.

"This is a deplorable act against healthcare workers and medical facilities," said Dr Khaula Sawah, the head of UOSSM USA.

The strike is believed to have been carried out by either Russia or the Syrian regime.

The deaths came after senior coalition officials said Russia was directly involved in the bombing of a UN aid convoy on the outskirts of Aleppo on Monday in a "revenge" attack for an earlier air strike that killed 60 Syrian soldiers.

Eyewitnesses on the ground reported seeing a number of Russian surveillance aircraft circling overhead before the aid convoy was struck by a series of missiles fired by warplanes, killing an estimated 20 civilians and destroying 18 UN trucks carrying vital humanitarian supplies to besieged rebel-held areas.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly in New York, British Prime Minister Theresa May said she condemned the attack, which has exacerbated fears that the week-old US-Russian sponsored ceasefire is on the point of collapse.

Ms May also used her first major foreign policy address to announce billions of pounds of funding to the Middle East and Africa designed to stop migrants travelling to Britain.

Boris Johnson, the British Foreign Secretary, said: "The attack on the aid convoy in Aleppo was appalling and a clear violation of the most basic of humanitarian principles."

Mr Johnson later met his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, for the first time to discuss the "unacceptable" attack while the pair were in the US for the UN General Assembly.

The White House said it held Russia responsible for the air strike on the convoy.

"There only could have been two entities responsible, either the Syrian regime or the Russian government," said Ben Rhodes, the White House spokesman.

"In any event, we hold the Russian government responsible for airstrikes in this space."

Two US officials had earlier said they had intelligence confirming that two Russian Sukhoi SU-24 warplanes were in the skies above the aid convoy at the precise time it was struck, and that the conclusion was that Russia was to blame. (© Daily Telegraph London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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