Deadly Airstrikes Hit Syrian Hospital 04/28 06:39
BEIRUT (AP) -- A wave of nighttime airstrikes hit a hospital in Syria
supported by Doctors Without Borders and nearby buildings in the rebel-held
part of the contested city of Aleppo, killing at least 27 people as the U.N.
envoy for Syria appealed early Thursday on the U.S. and Russia to help revive
the peace talks and a cease-fire, which he said "hangs by a thread."
Six hospital staff and three children were also among the casualties. The
strikes, shortly before midnight Wednesday, hit the well-known al-Quds field
hospital in the rebel-held district of Sukkari in Aleppo, according to
opposition activists and rescue workers.
The chief Syrian opposition negotiator Mohammed Alloush blamed the
government of President Bashar Assad for the deadly airstrikes. He told The
Associated Press that the latest violence by government forces shows "the
environment is not conducive to any political action."
The Civil Defense, a volunteer first-responders agency whose members went to
the scene of the attack, put the death toll at 30 and said the dead included
six hospital staff. Among those slain was one of the last pediatricians
remaining in opposition-held areas of the contested city and a dentist.
The agency, also known as the White Helmets, said the al-Quds hospital and
adjacent buildings were struck in four consecutive airstrikes. It said there
were still victims buried under the rubble and that the rescue work continued.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 27 were
killed, including three children.
Doctors Without Borders, also known by its French acronym MSF, said in a
series of tweets also emailed to the AP that at least 14 patients and staff
were among those killed, with the toll expected to rise.
"Destroyed MSF-supported hospital in Aleppo was well known locally and hit
by direct airstrike on Wednesday," it said.
A video posted online by the White Helmets showed a number of lifeless
bodies, including those of children, being pulled out from a building and
loaded into ambulances amid screaming and wailing. It also showed distraught
rescue workers trying to keep onlookers away from the scene, apparently fearing
Alloush, who was one of the leading negotiators of the opposition in the
Geneva talks, described the airstrikes as one of the latest "war crimes" of
"Whoever carries out these massacres needs a war tribunal and a court of
justice to be tried for his crimes. He does not need a negotiating table,"
Alloush told the AP in a telephone interview. "Now, the environment is not
conducive for any political action."
The February 27 cease-fire has been fraying in the past weeks as casualty
figures from violence mount, particularly in Aleppo and across northern Syria.
Airstrikes earlier this week also targeted a training center for the Syrian
Civil Defense, leaving five of its team dead in rural Aleppo.
Since April 19, nearly 200 people have died, including at least 44 in an
airstrike on a market place in rebel-held area in northern Idlib province, as
well as dozens of civilians in government-held areas from rebel shelling.
The U.N. envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, briefed the U.N. Security
Council via videoconference about the largely stalled indirect talks between
the Western- and Saudi-backed opposition and envoys from Assad's government,
which has the backing of Moscow.
He said that after 60 days, the cessation of hostilities agreed to by both
sides "hangs by a thread."
"I really fear that the erosion of the cessation is unraveling the fragile
consensus around a political solution, carefully built over the last year," de
Mistura said in his council briefing obtained by The Associated Press. "Now I
see parties reverting to the language of a military solution or military
option. We must ensure that they do not see that as a solution or an option."
The talks foundered last week after the main opposition group, called the
High Negotiating Committee, suspended its formal participation in the indirect
talks with Assad's envoys to protest alleged government cease-fire violations,
a drop in humanitarian aid deliveries and no progress in winning the release of
detainees in Syria.