The United Nations on Tuesday condemned a recent wave of airstrikes on medical centers in opposition-held parts of Syria, including one that put a hospital serving 50,000 people out of action. A separate U.N. report also said 272,345 people had been displaced between Dec. 15 and Jan. 24 in Idlib governorate and that health organizations there were being stretched to the limit.
The Assad regime, which is backed by Russian air power in its almost seven-year-long war with opposition fighters, says it only targets militants and has repeatedly denied striking civilian facilities such as hospitals.
"I am appalled by the ongoing attacks on hospitals and other medical facilities in northwestern Syria, depriving hundreds of thousands of people of their basic right to health," said Panos Moumtzis, U.N. regional coordinator for the Syria crisis.
Syria's war shows no sign of ending and a peace conference hosted by Russia on Tuesday was marred by discord.
On Monday, two airstrikes damaged the 18-bed Owdai Hospital in Saraqib city in opposition-held Idlib governorate supported by the aid charity Médecins Sans Frontières, killing at least five people, including a child, and injuring six.
The hospital, which experienced a near miss that blew out windows on Jan. 21, was hit while receiving people wounded in an airstrike on Saraqib´s main market, which the United Nations said had killed at least 16 people.
In 2017, there were 112 verified attacks on health facilities in Syria, and there had been at least 13 so far this year, according to Moumtzis.
Another U.N. report said more than 270,000 people had been displaced between Dec. 15 and Jan. 24 in Idlib, as the city has been devastated by Assad regime and Russian air force bombings.
It described heavy fighting between opposition fighters and the Assad regime forces in the eastern part of the governorate, mainly around the town of Abul Thohur and its air base, with numerous civilian casualties and "high levels of psychosocial distress among girls, boys, women and men."
Saraqib's town council has declared a disaster zone and called on the international community to intervene, the U.N. report said.