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Air Strikes on Syrian Civilian Targets Condemned
   2016-02-16 20:25:17    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Li Shaotong

Rescue workers inspect the debris of a collapsed hospital, belongs to humanitarian aid organization "Doctors Without Borders" to save victims after Russian forces' air-strike over residential areas in Maarat al-Numan District of Idlib, Syria on February 15, 2016. [Photo: CFP]

Air strikes hit a number of civilian targets in northern Syria on Monday, killing 50 people. The United Nations has condemned the attacks as a blatant violation of international law.

CRI's Victor Ning reports.

 

The UN said on Monday the stricken targets included five medical facilities and two schools.

An official with Doctors without Borders Isabelle Defourny said on Monday a clinic run by the organization in Syria was bombed.

"So we were contacted this morning by our head of mission based in Gaziantep, who was himself contacted by the team, the medical team based in Maaret al-Numan. So the hospital was bombed this morning three to four times, almost completely destroyed, seven people were dead, five patients, one caretaker, one guard of the hospital and eight staff are still missing, presumed dead."

The UN did not identify the responsible party for the attacks.

But the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Russian forces carried out the strikes.

The observatory is an anti-government activist organization based in London. It says it relies on activists on the ground in Syria for information. Its claim of Russian involvement has not been independently verified.

Russia has been conducting airstrikes on targets inside Syria since last September. Russian officials have repeatedly said they are not targeting civilians, contrary to the claims of the opposition on the ground.

Just last week, world powers agreed in Munich to a cessation of hostilities in Syria to allow the deliveries of humanitarian aid. But the deal was not signed by any parties and does not take effect until the end of this week.
 
The air strikes have drawn international condemnation. On Monday, US National Security Advisor Susan Rice said her side is concerned about the civilian impact of these attacks.

"This has been a period of intensified bombing particularly in the north of Syria. We have condemned that in the strongest terms and we think it runs counter, frankly, to the commitments made in Munich on Friday and to our shared interest in seeing the violence reduced, civilians allowed to receive humanitarian assistance which is of critical importance."

On Monday, the European Union also condemned the attack on the facility run by Doctors without Borders, with the French name of Medecins Sans Frontieres. The EU's Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini promises more humanitarian aid.

"What happened today to the hospital of Medecins Sans Frontieres, is completely unacceptable and we will continue to pressure all the parties to respect basic principals of humanitarian law and focus on the protection of civilians. In the same spirit, the European Union is taking a fundamental role in the task force that has started already to work in Geneva, in these days, on humanitarian delivery."

The EU official added that plans are in process for establishing a humanitarian aid office in the Syrian capital of Damascus.

Doctors without Borders says the destruction of its clinic leaves 40,000 people in the area without medical access.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed "deep concern" about the bombings, calling on the international community to implement the Munich agreements to achieve stability in Syria.

For CRI, I'm Victor Ning.

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