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The New Arab

Syria airstrike destroys cave hospital

The Hasan al-Araj Cave Hospital was destroyed in the bombing [UOSSM]

Date of publication: 2 February, 2018

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A hospital built deep underground in a Syrian opposition area has been targeted in an air strike, putting the medical centre out of service.


A Syrian airstrike has destroyed a hospital built inside an underground cave, activists said Thursday, as regime forces continue to pound opposition areas.

Five missiles struck the medical centre built 20 metres underground, putting the hospital out of service.

Buried deep underground, the Dr. Hassan al-Araj Cave Hospital in Hama province was described as one of the most secure medical units in Syria, until it was destroyed in Thursday's airstrikes.

The hospital is named after Dr. Hassan al-Araj, who was the last cardiologist in the opposition-held section of Hama province, until he was killed in an airstrike in April 2016.

Hospitals and medical staff have been frequent targets of Syrian regime and Russian air raids during the six year war.

The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM) - which supports the hospital - said the centre served 50,000 Hama residents and provided care to around 7,000 patients a month. 

The hospital was targeted three times by bombers in January. UOSSM said Thursday's air strikes likely required the use of bunker buster missiles to penetrate the 60 feet of rock.

"With the sophistication of weapons used, there is no doubt that hospitals are being intentionally targeted and destroyed," the group said in a statement. 

"Can you imagine the kind of weapon it would take to cause this level of damage under 60 feet of solid rock?"

Hundreds of hospitals, clinics and medical centres in opposition areas have been destroyed in the war, which erupted in 2011.

Some have been targeted with "double tap" strikes, killing emergency responders at the scenes of initial bombings.

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