Medical Group Issues Video Of Russian Attack On Hospital
October 23, 2015
by Pete Baumgartner
The medical organization that said its field hospital in northwestern Syria was hit by Russian air strikes has released a video from the aftermath of the attack, which killed two members of its medical staff.
The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) -- which has dozens of medical facilities for refugees in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan -- said the October 20 strikes in the town of Sarmin killed 12 people and injured at least 28 others.
It added that the two strikes -- about five minutes apart -- were at least the ninth time a hospital or field clinic in Syria has been struck since Russia began its bombing campaign on September 30 in support of Moscow's ally, embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The SAMS video, which appears to have been shot on a mobile phone, shows a chaotic scene with several wounded people sprawled on blood-stained floors and others being given first aid on a table.
Photos provided by SAMS show severe damage to a small structure cited as the field hospital and pictures of two employees of the medical group -- physiotherapist Hassan Taj al-Din and Khaldun Abu Den -- who were reportedly killed in the attacks along with 10 other civilians.
Muhammad Tennari, the director of the medical facility in Sarmin, said it had been targeted previously 'by the Syrian government and now by the Russian government.'
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on October 22 that the report about the air strikes was 'fake.'
She added that the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which also reported the bombing of the SAMS facility, is no more reliable than 'a waiter in a pizzeria.'
The Syrian News Agency reported on October 20 that Russian warplanes had carried out air strikes in Sarmin on that day but had destroyed a 'terrorist' headquarters in the small town. It did not mention an attack on the SAMS facility.
SAMS President Ahmad Tarakji called on the international community 'to use all means necessary to end attacks on civilians and to prevent the further targeting of health care facilities in Syria.'
SAMS said several of its facilities have been bombed since Russia began its air campaign, including at a medical clinic in the central province of Hama and the coastal province of Lataki on October 2.
It said in an October 20 statement that Russian air strikes had also targeted the only two hospitals operating in Aleppo on October 18-19, resulting in patients being evacuated and the facilities to be closed.
The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said on October 22 that the Russian bombardment is making it 'more difficult for us to reach some areas' and to deliver desperately needed aid to civilians in Syria, where a civil war has killed more than 220,000 people since 2011 and caused millions to flee their homes.
The attacks in Sarmin come as SOHR -- which relies on dispatches from monitors throughout Syria -- reported on October 23 that Russian air strikes had killed at least 446 people, including 38 children among 151 civilians, since the start of Moscow's military campaign just over three weeks ago.
SOHR added that of the 295 insurgents killed in Russia's air campaign thus far, only 75 were from the militant group Islamic State (IS). It said 31 belonged to the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front.
Russian military officials said their airplanes have carried out more than 1,000 sorties and have hit more than 850 'terrorist' targets in Syria.
Moscow has denied bombing civilian areas or killing civilians during its air campaign.
But there have been numerous reports of indiscriminate bombing by Russian warplanes since shortly after it started carrying out air attacks.
The latest report, from SOHR on October 23, said six children and five women had been killed in air strikes on the town of Talbisseh, in Homs Province.
SOHR said both Russian and Syrian planes had been conducting air strikes in Homs in recent days.
Additionally, the U.S.-led coalition that has been bombing IS fighters for more than a year accuses Moscow of targeting moderate rebel groups, including the U.S.- and Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on October 23 that Moscow has 'been unable to single out the so-called moderate opposition.'
Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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