Friday 2 December 2016

Russia denies its planes bombed hospitals

Roland Oliphant in Moscow

Published 17/02/2016 | 02:30

People carry medical supplies found under the rubble of a destroyed Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) supported hospital hit by missiles in Marat Numan, Idlib province, Syria. Photo: Reuters
People carry medical supplies found under the rubble of a destroyed Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) supported hospital hit by missiles in Marat Numan, Idlib province, Syria. Photo: Reuters

The Kremlin has denied reports that the Russian air force bombed hospitals in northern Syria, saying there was no evidence to back up such claims.

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Aid organisations accused Russia of deliberately targeting at least two hospitals on Monday, in strikes that left at least seven people dead.

"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, yesterday.

Mr Peskov declined to elaborate on claims by the Syrian ambassador to Moscow that a Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital bombed on Monday had actually been targeted by "the American air force".

But he added that people should rely on the "root source" for information on the strike, and said that "for us, the root source in this case is statements by official representatives of the Syrian government".

Jets

Seven people were killed and at least eight were reported missing after jets fired four missiles into a hospital near Maarat al-Numan, in the northern province of Idlib, on Monday.

Medecins Sans Frontieres, the Paris-based NGO that supported the hospital, said that the strike had been carried out by "either the Syrian government or Russia".

In a separate incident on the same day, 15 people were injured in a strike on a maternity unit in the rebel-held town of Azaz.

Adnan Seddik, manager of the Syria Charity, a French NGO which runs the hospital in Azaz, said the facility had been hit by a Russian missile.

The facilities in Azaz and Idlib were amongst at least five hospitals and two schools that were hit by air strikes on Monday, prompting Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, to become the first major Western leader to call for a no-fly zone to be imposed.

As many as 50 civilians died at the facilities, two of which were supported by Unicef, the United Nations children's agency. Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, decried the assaults as "blatant violations of international law".

Irish Independent

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