Air strikes on syrian rebel-held territory: clinic hit

Air strikes on syrian rebel-held territory: clinic hit

Air strikes on a clinic and other syrian rebel areas around the city of idlib have killed at least ten civilians, according to activists.

The hospital in the town of ariha was directly hit and is now out of service, the syrian observatory for human rights reported. She blamed the russian air force for the bombing. According to opposition media, dozens of people were injured. Aid workers warned the humanitarian situation in the region is becoming increasingly dramatic.

Federal government condemned increasing attacks on civilian infrastructure in idlib and called for an immediate genuine ceasefire. The syrian regime and its allies had to guarantee the protection of civilians and comply with international humanitarian law, the foreign ministry said in berlin.

Russia rejected the accusations. The russian air force is not operating in this area of syria, the defense ministry in moscow declared. Reports of russian attacks on a hospital were a "provocation".

Russia is an important ally of the government in the syrian civil war. The army and its allies began an offensive on the region around the city of idlib in the northwest of the country last year. After almost nine years of civil war, it is the last rough rebel territory. It is controlled by the al-qaeda-affiliated militia haiat tahrir al-scham (HTS). Syria and russia argue their attacks in the region were against terrorists.

Violence had recently increased. It continued even after russia announced a new ceasefire three weeks ago. Turkish president recep tayyip erdogan accused russia of not adhering to agreements made with ankara. Turkey supports the rebels in the syrian civil war.

This week, government forces captured the strategically important town of marat al-numan. They now apparently want to advance further north and take full control of the main road between the northern syrian city of aleppo and the capital of damascus. The rebels said they were massing forces to stop the advance.

In recent months, the syrian air force and russia had repeatedly bombed hospitals in the rebel-held area. The UN ordered an investigation into this last year. The health authority in idlib declared on thursday that after the attack on the clinic in ariha, there were no more medical care points in the entire southern part of the region.

Aid workers deplore dramatic humanitarian situation in rebel-held area. Since the beginning of december, according to the UN, almost 390.000 people fled violence. In the last two weeks alone, almost 40.000 people have been displaced. Around three million people live in the region around idlib, half of them displaced persons.

Welthungerhilfe warned on thursday that the supply situation was getting worse. "The overcrowded refugee camps are literally sinking into the mud," says halil kurt, the organization’s program coordinator. "The temporary dwellings offer little protection against the frost at night." Many cursed could no longer afford fuel for their stoves. "For a fire, they now burn everything they can get their hands on, even plastic gauze."

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