Air Strikes in Syria Destroy Cave Hospital

Published February 3rd, 2018 - 09:07 GMT
Smoke billows from an area that was targeted by Syrian government forces air strikes in the rebel-held town of Arbin, on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus, on Feb. 1, 2018. Douma is in the Eastern Ghouta region which has been under government siege since 2013.
(ABDULMONAM EASSA / AFP)
Smoke billows from an area that was targeted by Syrian government forces air strikes in the rebel-held town of Arbin, on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus, on Feb. 1, 2018. Douma is in the Eastern Ghouta region which has been under government siege since 2013. (ABDULMONAM EASSA / AFP)

A hospital built under 20 meters of rock in Syria’s central Hama province has been destroyed by a powerful air strike, medical sources say.

The Al Maghara cave hospital in the rebel-held area was one of the best protected in the country and served around 50,000 people in dire need of medical care.

The clandestine hospital in the town of Kafr Zita was hit by five missiles in Thursday’s strike, says the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations (UOSSM), an international coalition of medical charities.

“It’s widely believed to be the most secure hospital in Syria,” UOSSM spokesman Avi D’Souza told the BBC.

“This is the most serious attack in a larger campaign against hospitals,” he said.

The group recorded 14 strikes against medical facilities in Syria in January alone.

It is not clear who carried out the latest strike, but Syrian government warplanes or those of its ally Russia have been stepping up attacks in rebel-held areas.

There were no reported injuries as patients were evacuated upon hearing the circling fighter jets.

Causing such damage is only possible through advanced weapons, such as bunker-buster missiles, the UOSSM added.

On Thursday, United Nations humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland warned that the Syrian government’s approval of aid convoys is at “an all-time low” since the UN launched a humanitarian taskforce in 2015, with no deliveries in the past two months,

He called on Russia, Turkey and Iran to achieve “de-escalation” of the fighting in Idlib governorate, and called for a humanitarian pause in the the besieged rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta where hundreds await medical evacuation.

“Humanitarian diplomacy seems to be totally impotent, we’re getting nowhere,” Egeland told reporters in Geneva.

Two weeks ago, the U.N. expressed alarm about a surge of fighting and destruction in northwestern Syria’s Idlib province, the last major area of the country held by rebels, where assaults by Russian-backed Syrian forces have put tens of thousands of civilians at risk.

The assault on Idlib, including areas near the Turkish border, has forced more than 100,000 people to flee for safety since the start of December.

The United Nations estimates Idlib’s population at 2.5 million, including more than a million who fled or were evacuated to the province to escape offensives elsewhere in the country, and who are packed into camps scattered across the province.

Some reports say that government forces and their allies had deliberately targeted civilians and hospitals in Idlib.



This article has been adapted from its original source.


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