30 Jul 2016

Maternity hospital hit by bomb in Syria

8:31 am on 30 July 2016

An air strike has hit a maternity hospital supported by Save the Children in north-western Syria, killing two people and wounding three others.

People gather around the area of a damaged building of a maternity hospital after it was hit by an air raid in the rebel-held town of Kafar Takharim.

People gather around the area of a damaged building of a maternity hospital after it was hit by an air raid in the rebel-held town of Kafar Takharim. Photo: AFP

Syria Relief, the aid agency that manages the hospital, said those killed were relatives of patients.

Save the Children said the bomb, from an air strike, hit the entrance to the hospital in rural Idlib province.

Images show part of the building in Kafer Takhareem destroyed. It is not clear who carried out the attack.

Save the Children said the hospital was the biggest in the area, carrying out more than 300 deliveries a month.

A doctor with Save the Children, Abdulkarim Ezkayez, said the closest similar facility was more than 100km away.

"The hospital itself was affected badly because some equipment was damaged, including the generator running the electricity... and some other equipment including incubators for newborns," he said.

UK-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a nearby civil defence building was also damaged.

In other developments:

  • Activists say US-led coalition air strikes have killed 28 civilians in a northern Syrian village near Manbij. The US says it is investigating.
  • The UN's envoy to Syria has appealed to Russia to let the UN manage safe corridors from besieged areas of the city of Aleppo.
Syrian army soldiers patrol the area around the entrance of Bani Zeid after taking control of the previously rebel-held district of Leramun, on the northwest outskirts of Aleppo.

Syrian army soldiers patrol the area around the entrance of Bani Zeid after taking control of the previously rebel-held district of Leramun, on the northwest outskirts of Aleppo. Photo: AFP

Humanitarian corridors to open

Russia, a key ally of the Syrian government, said on Thursday that three humanitarian corridors from Aleppo were being opened for civilians and unarmed rebels and a fourth for armed rebels.

About 300,000 people are trapped in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, under intense bombardment.

Russia's announcement was welcomed cautiously by the UN, the US and some aid agencies.

The US has suggested the plan may be an attempt to force the evacuation of civilians and the surrender of rebel groups in the city.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that if the operation was "a ruse" it could disrupt US-Russian co-operation in Syria.

"It has the risk, if it is a ruse, of completely breaking apart the... co-operation," he said.

"On the other hand, if we're able to work it out today and have a complete understanding of what is happening and then agreement on (the) way forward, it could actually open up some possibilities."

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said the UN supported such corridors in principle and was asking Russia for more details on how they would work.

"Our suggestion to Russia is to actually leave the corridors being established at their initiative to us," Mr de Mistura told reporters in Geneva.

"The UN and humanitarian partners know what to do."

He echoed calls from the UN's Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O'Brien, for a 48-hour truce to allow aid into the east of the city.

"How can you expect people to want to walk through a corridor, thousands of them, while there is shelling, bombing fighting?" Mr de Mistura asked.

He said the UN was "in principle and in practice in favour of humanitarian corridors under the right circumstances" but said Russia needed to provide more information on how the system would work.

He reiterated that civilians who left should do so only through their own choice.

Food supplies running out

The UN said on Monday that food supplies in Aleppo were expected to run out in mid-August and many medical facilities continued to be attacked.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has said the three corridors for civilians and unarmed fighters would have medical posts and food handouts.

The fourth corridor, in the direction of Castello Road, would be for armed militants, he said.

The Syrian Observatory said on Friday that seven children were among the 28 killed in the coalition air strike on al-Ghandour village near Manbij.

The US confirmed air strikes took place near Manbij on Thursday and said it was investigating claims of civilian casualties.

Manbij is controlled by the so-called Islamic State group but encircled by Kurdish-led forces who are advancing with the support of coalition air strikes.

- Reuters

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