Regime aircraft pounded rebel areas of Syria’s second city Aleppo on Friday, damaging a clinic just days after a strike on another hospital killed two doctors and sparked international outcry.
Clinic hit in Syria’s Aleppo amid outcry over strike on hospital
:Clinic hit in Syria’s Aleppo amid outcry over hospital strike Aleppo (Syria) – 29 April 2016 16:07 – AFP (Karam al-Masri) / WRAP – UPDATE Regime aircraft pounded rebel areas of Syria’s second city Aleppo on Friday, damaging a clinic just days after a strike on another hospital killed two doctors and sparked international outcry.More than 200 civilians have been killed in Aleppo over the past week, as rebels fire rockets into government-held neighbourhoods and regime air strikes hit opposition areas.The bloodshed has brought a landmark February 27 ceasefire to the verge of collapse and raised fears of a humanitarian crisis in the northern metropolis. Despite the bloodshed, Aleppo is excluded from a fresh “freeze” in fighting brokered by the United States and Russia.Syria’s armed forces said that the freeze would begin at 1:00 am on Saturday (2200 GMT Friday) and last for 24 hours in Damascus and the nearby rebel bastion of Eastern Ghouta, and 72 hours in the coastal Latakia province. A Syrian security source said the deal came as part of a US-Russia agreement, but that Moscow had refused a request by Washington to include Aleppo in the pact. On Friday, at least 11 people were killed in regime bombardment of the city’s eastern districts, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Rebel groups fired a barrage of rockets on government-controlled western neighbourhoods, killing at least 13 people, the monitor said. Air strikes and barrel bombs could be heard across rebel neighbourhoods, mixing with the wail of ambulances, an AFP correspondent in the city said.”The planes didn’t sleep and didn’t let us sleep either,” one resident of the densely populated Bustan al-Qasr district told AFP.”The earth is shaking beneath our feet.”One raid hit a local clinic in the rebel-held Al-Maja neighbourhood, wounding several people including a nurse, the civil defence group known as the White Helmets said.The clinic, which had been providing dental services and treatment for chronic illnesses for about five years, was badly damaged.Medical equipment lay scattered across the clinic’s floor, covered in debris and dust, an AFP correspondent there said. “We serve civilians in this establishment, there were no fighters here,” said Hassan al-Ahmad, who heads the clinic. – ‘Loveliest doctor’ killed -It was the second time this week that an air strike hit one of the few medical facilities still operating in rebel areas.Late Wednesday, air strikes hit the Al-Quds hospital and a nearby block of flats in the Sukkari neighbourhood, killing 30 people. Dr. Mohammad Wassim Maaz, known as the most qualified paediatrician in eastern Aleppo, was among the dead. “He was friendly, kind and he used to joke a lot with the whole staff. He was the loveliest doctor in our hospital,” Dr. Hatem, a colleague, wrote in a letter published by The Syria Campaign advocacy group.US Secretary of State John Kerry called on Moscow to press its Damascus ally “to stop attacking civilians, medical facilities, and first responders, and to abide fully by the cessation of hostilities.”Al-Quds was supported by both Doctors Without Borders and the International Committee of the Red Cross.The UN’s rights chief on Friday slammed world powers backing opposing sides in Syria. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said renewed violence, including strikes on markets and medical facilities, showed a “monstrous disregard for civilians lives by all parties to the conflict”.”In the minds of many, the world’s great powers have in effect become accomplices to the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of human beings, and the displacement of millions.”- ‘Aleppo is burning’ -An online campaign to halt the carnage picked up speed, with Twitter users posting pictures of destroyed buildings in flames with the hashtag #AleppoIsBurning. In a western government-held neighbourhood, Nour Shmeilan, an Orthodox Christian, said she was too afraid to attend Good Friday church services.”We’ve packed all our things in a single suitcase and are ready to flee at any moment,” she told AFP. Thursday was the deadliest day in Aleppo since the violence flared last week, with 54 civilians killed, according to the Observatory. “It is the worst day in Aleppo in five years. The regime did not spare a single neighbourhood,” one resident told AFP. The Syrian army is poised to launch an offensive to retake the whole of the city and the surrounding province. Aleppo was once Syria’s economic powerhouse, but it has been ravaged by fighting since 2012 when rebels seized the east of the city, confining the government to the west.Control of Aleppo province is divided between a myriad of warring armed groups and is heavily fought over because of its supply lines to neighbouring Turkey.Since the conflict in Syria erupted in 2011, more than 270,000 people have been killed and millions more been forced from their homes.str-rm/mjg/pg