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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Fatal raid on northwest Syria hospital deliberate: MSF

Iran Press TV

Tue Feb 16, 2016 9:5AM

Doctors Without Borders has sharply condemned a deadly aerial attack against its medical facility in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib and said the raid was not "accidental."

The Paris-based medical aid group, known by its French acronym MSF, confirmed seven people were killed after one of its health facilities was hit by four missiles within minutes of each other in the Maarat al-Numaan city of Syria's Idlib Province.

The quick succession "leads us to believe that ... it wasn't an accidental attack, that it was deliberate," said Sam Taylor, a spokesman for Doctors Without Borders operations in Syria.

Massimiliano Rebaudengo, MSF's head mission, also said the strike "appears to be a deliberate attack on a health structure and we condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms."

"The destruction of the hospital leaves the local population of around 40,000 people without access to medical services in an active zone of conflict," he added.

The MSF said five patients, a caretaker and a guard were among the dead, while eight staff members were missing and presumed dead following the airstrike.

The medical charity further noted that it had been supporting the hospital, which had 30 beds, 54 members of staff, two operating theaters, an outpatient department and an emergency room, since 2015, and it was offering medical supplies as well as running costs to it.

Besides the MSF-run clinic, four other medical facilities and two schools in Idlib as well as Syria's northwestern province of Aleppo came under similar attacks. The UN says 50 civilians lost their lives in the raids.

Turkey has accused Russia of carrying out the attack and the US has called for an end to Russian airstrikes which target foreign-backed militants.

Both Syria and Russia have dismissed the allegations.

Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riyad Haddad said on Monday Moscow's fighter jets had nothing to do with the airstrike, adding "intelligence information" showed US warplanes carried out the attack.

Russian Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova also dismissed the accusations and said Moscow's military aircraft only target positions of terrorists in Syria.

"We are confident that [there is] no way could it be done by our defense forces. This contradicts our ideology," the Russian official stated.

The United States, in return, ruled out any involvement in the attack. Colonel Steve Warren, a spokesman for the US military in Iraq, said US forces were not operating in the targeted area.

Last October, US fighter jets attacked an MSF-run clinic Afghanistan's embattled city of Kunduz, killing at least 30 people. Washington claimed the raid was a mistake, but the medical charity said the assault seems to have had no purpose but to "kill and destroy."

One of the health centers that was struck by a missile on Monday is in the militant-held city of A'zaz, situated in Aleppo Province, which has been under heavy shelling by the Turkish military over the past few days.

The Monday strikes also targeted a school sheltering displaced families in the city, leaving 14 people dead.

In letters to the United Nations on Monday, the Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned Ankara's shelling of Kurdish villages, saying such raids are aimed at supporting the "armed terrorist organizations."

The ministry said the Turkish shelling is a response to Syrian army's Russian-backed gains against terror groups, particularly in Aleppo Province.

The foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria, which began in March 2011, has claimed the lives of some 470,000 people and left 1.9 million injured, according to the so-called Syrian Center for Policy Research.

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