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All of southern Idlib's hospitals destroyed in new wave of Syrian regime and Russian bombing Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

All of southern Idlib's hospitals destroyed in new wave of Syrian regime and Russian bombing

The Kiwan hospital was bombed by Russia on Monday [Getty]

Date of publication: 28 November, 2019

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Russia and the Syrian regime bombed a hospital in Kafranbel on Wednesday night. This was the last functioning hospital in rebel-held Idlib province and there are fears of a catastrophe
A new humanitarian catastrophe is looming in Syria's Idlib province, activists have reported that there are no medical facilities left in southern Idlib province, following a systematic campaign by Russia and Assad regime forces against hospitals.

The Assad regime bombed the last hospital in the area and destroyed it, local sources said. The Rawda Maternity and Children's Hospital in the town of Kafranbel was hit by a barrel bomb on Wednesday Night.

The pan-Arab newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported that Russia and the regime had carried out over 100 air and artillery strikes on southern Idlib on Wednesday. Two people were killed and five injured.

On Monday, regime airstrikes also hit the Kiwan Hospital and the neighbouring Amal Maternity Hospital in the town of Kansafara in southern Idlib province.

The head of the Syrian Civil Defence - also known as The White Helmets - in the area, Mustafa Al-Haj Yousef, told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that the airstrike caused massive damage to the hospitals and started a fire in the medical warehouse nearby.

"Targeting of hospitals is ongoing and all kinds of weapons are being used against southern Idlib. The Civil Defence is documenting all the war crimes in Syria and showing them to international organisations and the international community," he added.

The Idlib Health directorate estimates that 15 hospitals in the opposition province are now completely destroyed or inoperable. Some hospitals have been bombed several times.

Read more: Remaining hospitals in Syria's Idlib overwhelmed with patients

Russia and the regime resumed bombardment of Idlib province, the last rebel-held area in Syria at the beginning of November following a two-month lull.

The Syrian Response Coordinators group said earlier this week that it had documented the killing of 90 civilians and the displacement of 50,000 more in Idlib province this month.

Most of the displaced people have fled to camps on the Syrian side on the Syrian-Turkish border, or to areas in Idlib province which are relatively stable.

The Response Coordinators said in a statement that as many as a million people could be displaced if Russian and regime airstrikes continue.

Idlib province is currently home to approximately 3 million people, about half of them displaced by the Assad regime from other parts of Syria. Between April and September this year, Russian and regime airstrikes killed 1,378 people and displaced roughly 500,000.

Systematic destruction

Munther Khalil, the head of the Idlib Health Directorate, told The New Arab’s Arabic service that Moscow is replicating the same scorched earth tactics it employed in other parts of Syria.

"Russia doesn't care about any condemnation of war crimes or crimes against humanity in Syria from the international community," he said.

"It's continuing with the same actions which we've become familiar with recently, when it took over Ghouta and Aleppo [former opposition territories]. It carries out systematic destruction of medical facilities before taking over an area. This is now complete in southern Idlib."

Syrian hospitals have previously shared their coordinates with the United Nations in an attempt to ensure that they would not be bombed, but Russia is believed to have used the information to target the hospitals.

An investigation by The New York Times last month - using evidence from Russian air force radio transmissions - showed that Russia had deliberately bombed four hospitals in 12 hours between 5 and 6 May 2019.

The medical charity UOSSM has estimated that 50 hospitals and clinics have been targeted in Idlib province by Russia and the Assad regime since last April.

The Syrian conflict began in 2011, after the Assad regime brutally suppressed pro-democracy protests.

More than 500,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced then, mostly as a result of regime bombardment of civilian areas.

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