Global Independent Analytics

Kerry expresses outrage after 50 killed in strike on Syrian hospital

An airstrike on a hospital in Syria has killed 50 people; the UN warns that the situation in Aleppo has become "catastrophic" amid intensified fighting in recent days

Faith Karimi, Mohammed Eyad Kourdi, and Tim Hume for CNN report: Al Quds field hospital, situated in a rebel-held neighborhood of Aleppo, was hit by a missile from a fighter jet Wednesday, witnesses said. The airstrike killed at least 50 people, according to Pablo Marco, operations manager for Doctors Without Borders in the Middle East. Marco told CNN that at least six of the dead were hospital staff: Two doctors, two nurses, one guard and one maintenance worker. The death toll could still rise.

John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, issued a statement condemning the attack and accusing the Syrian government of the incident. "We are outraged by yesterday's airstrikes in Aleppo on the al Quds hospital supported by both Doctors Without Borders and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which killed dozens of people, including children, patients, and medical personnel," he said in a statement.

"It appears to have been a deliberate strike on a known medical facility and follows the Assad regime's appalling record of hitting such facilities and first responders. These strikes have killed hundreds of innocent Syrians."

Both American and Russian governments have denied their involvement in the bombings while Syria’s state-run SANA news agency also reported that the country’s planes were not responsible for the attack. However, it was reported that Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air power, have been pursuing a major offensive on Aleppo in recent months despite a nationwide "cessation of hostilities" technically being in force. Marco, with Doctors Without Borders, said: "We cannot be certain who is responsible for this attack. What we know is it is the Syrian government that has usually been using these barrel bombs in the past."

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 148 citizens have been killed in Aleppo in the past six days. The U.N. envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura has repeatedly called for the U.S. and Russia to unite and help revitalize peace negotiations, saying the truce was barely holding and "hangs by a thread."Jan Egeland, the U.N. task force official, has also warned that there had been a "catastrophic deterioration" in Aleppo and parts of Homs over the past day or two. He said that if strikes continued, the U.N. would not be able to carry out a planned delivery of aid to 35 besieged locations. "I can't express how high the stakes are for the next hours and days," he said.

The humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders, has also condemned the attacks heavily, saying that yet another medical facility was outrageously targeted and reduced to rubble by a direct air strike. It was reported that due to the assault the people of the country were deprived of essential healthcare. Marianne Gasser, head of the ICRC mission in Syria, also condemned the attack on the hospital, saying Aleppo was being "pushed further to the brink of humanitarian disaster." "The recent attack on the ICRC-supported Quds hospital is unacceptable, and sadly this is not the first time the lifesaving medical services have been hit," she said.

In recent months, citizens of northern Syria have been struggling with intensified fighting; the city of Aleppo is under siege; no access to the main road from the town to the Turkish border leaves no opportunity to transfer essential supplies from aid agencies to the citizens. Some say that Aleppo has not really seen any benefits from ceasefire and that people are suffering from a dire humanitarian situation.

 

By Stefan Paraber for GIA.

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