TeleSUR & Kathy Kelly / TeleSUR – 2016-02-17 00:44:24
(February 15, 2016) — The hospital attacks come as Turkey bombed Kurdish positions in northern Syria for the third consecutive day in a bid to keep Azaz from falling to Kurds.
Syria blamed the United States for killing civilians in the bombing of a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital south of Aleppo Monday, countering claims by Turkey and the US that Russia was behind the fatal attacks that have been labeled as “war crimes” by the United Nations and other entities.
“American warplanes destroyed it,” Syria’s Ambassador to Moscow Riad Haddad said of the bombed hospital in an interview with Russian state television channel Rossiya 24. “Russian warplanes had nothing to do with any of it — the information that has been gathered will completely back that up.”
Haddad argued that blaming Russia for the strikes is part of a Western-backed war of information against Moscow.
At least five medical facilities and two schools were among the buildings hit by missiles on Monday in attacks that left almost 50 civilians dead, including children and women.
The attacks have been labeled a violation of international law by the United Nations and as “war crimes” by the MSF and Turkey.
The MSF hospital hit in the attacks in the town of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province south of Aleppo has been targeted by airstrikes over the past week. Another hospital was bombed in Azaz, also in the Aleppo province, where Turkey has been carrying out attacks against Kurdish fighters.
In condemning the attacks, neither the UN nor the US specified who carried out the strikes.
Ankara accused Russia of bombing civilians, while Moscow maintains that any airstrikes carried out in Syria will only target the Islamic State group.
In October, MSF and the Red Cross rejected US claims that Russia was targeting several hospitals in Syria, including six MSF facilities. However, they refused to say who they believed were responsible.
The news comes as Turkey bombed Kurdish YPG positions in northern Syria for the third day in a row on Monday while threatening Kurdish fighters will face the “harshest reaction” if YPG militias try to seize the town of Azaz near the Turkish border.
Turkey fears that the Kurdish YPG is poised to capture more territory along the Turkish border, including Azaz, the last Syrian rebel-held territory before the border. Kurds have recently gained ground in the area and are vying for control as the Syrian army has also made advances.
An offensive allegedly including Russian airstrikes has allowed the Syrian army to advance toward the Turkish border, while Kurdish militias also vie for control in the area.
Ankara argues that the strikes on YPG positions have followed “the rules of engagement” to target forces that threaten Azaz and surrounding areas.
Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization, while the Kurds have actually been fighting Islamic State group successfully, which according to various sources and entities, has angered Turkey since they protect the extremist group and even carry out profitable businesses with IS.
The third day of shelling comes as at least 14 people were killed by missiles in Azaz on Monday, in addition to the strikes that hit hospitals in the province of Idlib south of Aleppo.
A recent report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research released Thursday says 11.5 percent of Syria’s 22.5 million population has been killed or injured since the beginning of the conflict in 2011. Almost 500,000 people have been killed, more than doubling previous estimates.
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