Middle East

Syrian jets pound Aleppo, many casualties reported


BEIRUT: Air strikes on rebel-held districts of Syria’s contested city of Aleppo on Wednesday, including one that struck near a hospital, killed at least 10 people and left many others wounded, Syrian opposition activists said.

The northern city, Syria’s largest, has seen an uptick in violence in the last two days, with government forces pounding rebel-held eastern parts of the city with airstrikes while rebels are shelling western, government-held parts of Aleppo.

The activists said one of the strikes on Wednesday hit near the Bayan hospital in the Shaar neighborhood. Amateur videos uploaded on the internet by activists show massive destruction, fires and thick black smoke billowing from buildings.

Wounded people are seen being loaded into ambulances. A body covered in thick grey dust is lying face down on a street littered with debris.

The Independent Doctors Association , which describes itself as a cross-border Syrian humanitarian organization providing health care to the province and the city of Aleppo, said on its Twitter account that an airstrike hit a children’s hospital it runs, destroying one floor.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights , a Britain-based opposition monitoring group, said at least 10 were killed in Wednesday’s attacks, including children.

It was not immediately clear if they were all victims of the strike that hit near the hospital. The Local Coordination Committees, which also closely follows the conflict in Syria, also reported the airstrikes, saying they resulted in multiple casualties.

Hospitals and medical facilities have become a regular targeted in Syria’s civil war, now in its sixth year. Since the start of the conflict in 2011, nearly 740 doctors and staff have been killed in more than 360 attacks on hospitals in Syria, according to Physicians for Human Rights .

Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym, MSF, says that least 100 staff members, patients and caretakers were killed, and at least 130 were injured, in aerial bombing and shelling attacks on more than 80 MSF-supported and run health structures in 2015 and early 2016.

On April 27, an airstrike widely believed to have been carried out by the Syrian government destroyed the al-Quds hospital in Aleppo, killing a pediatrician and dozens of colleagues, patients and other civilians.

Aleppo, once Syria’s thriving commercial center, has been carved up between government- and rebel-controlled districts since the summer of 2012. The city has been at the center of a vicious war of attrition between government and opposition forces since then.

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