Bombs damage key hospital in rebel eastern Aleppo amid surge in fight

A major hospital in rebel-held eastern Aleppo was put out of service after it was bombed Saturday in the latest medical facility attack on the embattled city, activists said.

Unidentified jets targeted the area where the hospital is located, leaving at least one person dead and an unspecified number injured, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

Two barrel bombs hit the hospital, codenamed M10 for security reasons, said Adham Sahloul, an official with the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), a charity group running the facility.

M10 is eastern Aleppo's biggest hospital and had been partially closed on Wednesday after being hit along with another hospital, Sahloul told dpa.

The head of medical services in eastern Aleppo, Abu Jaafar Kaheel, said that M10 was heavily damaged and put completely out of action after taking direct hits in air raids on Saturday.

"Patients were transferred to other medical points," Kaheel told dpa. "Neither patients nor medical staff have been harmed."

Once Syria's commercial hub, Aleppo has been divided between government forces in the west and rebels in the east since fighting erupted for control of the city in mid-2012. 

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault condemned the bombardment of the hospital.

"Even amid the violence that has deluged Aleppo over the past several days, the systematic targeting of health infrastructure and personnel is unconscionable," he said in a statement.

"This attack only confirms the urgent need for a ceasefire in Aleppo," he said, adding that such attacks constitute crimes against humanity and those responsible would be held accountable.

The number of operating hospitals in eastern Aleppo remained unclear: SAMS counted six, while the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) put the figure at five.

At least 338 people, including 106 children, were killed between 23 and 29 September in eastern Aleppo, OCHA said on Saturday. 

Children with low chances of survival are left to die due to lack of capacity and supplies, the aid agency added.

Human rights groups accuse President Bashar al-Assad's government and its ally, Russia, of deliberately targeting medical facilities as a strategy ahead of ground offensives.

The Syrian government and Russia have repeatedly said that their military campaign target "terrorists."

An estimated 300,000 people have been under siege by government forces since July in eastern Aleppo, where residents report declining supplies of basic goods, including food, electricity and medicine. Water supplies have also been badly damaged.

Al-Assad's forces, backed by Russian air power, have stepped up their attacks in Aleppo in recent weeks in an attempt to tighten the noose around rebels there.

Fierce fighting was raging Saturday between government forces and rebels in the northern edge of eastern Aleppo, the Observatory reported, without giving casualty figures.

Syria's state news agency SANA meanwhile said that 13 people were injured in shelling by "terrorist groups" on the government-controlled district of al-Midan in Aleppo.

Last update: Sat, 01/10/2016 - 17:48
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