Syrian activists: Airstrikes hit hospital in rebel village

Wednesday’s airstrike was one of several to hit Idlib province, home to some 3 million people and the area where government forces have been on the offensive for months.

21 August 2019 | 15:59

Source: Associated Press

  • Source: Associated Press
  • Last update: 21 August 2019 | 15:59

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, second right, meets with a Russian delegation in Damascus, Syria, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. (AP Photo)

BEIRUT: Airstrikes hit a hospital in a rebel-held village in northwestern Syria, knocking it out of service early on Wednesday, opposition activists said as government forces pressed their offensive on the last major rebel stronghold in the war-torn country.

There was no immediate word on casualties from the airstrike on the Rahma hospital in Tel Mannas, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Thiqa news agency, an activist collective.

The Observatory said the hospital was struck four times but that it had been evacuated hours earlier.

Earlier this month, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres authorized an investigation into attacks on health facilities and schools in the rebel-held enclave, following a petition from Security Council members.

Wednesday’s airstrike was one of several to hit Idlib province, home to some 3 million people and the area where government forces have been on the offensive for months.

The violence came a day after the main insurgent group in Idlib pulled out of Khan Sheikhoun, a key rebel town, as government forces advanced in the area slowly, clearing land mines and explosives.

The withdrawal of al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham from Khan Sheikhoun is a blow to the opposition. Syrian government forces have been on the offensive in Idlib and northern parts of Hama province since April 30, forcing nearly half a million people to flee to safer areas further north. The fighting also killed more than 2,000 people, including hundreds of civilians.

On Wednesday, government forces captured the Teraei Hill, east of the town of Khan Sheikhoun. Syrian government forces are trying to capture more ground to meet troops marching from the west in order to lay siege on rebel-held towns and villages in the central province of Hama, according to the Observatory.

Activists also reported fighting in the rebel-held areas in the Jabal al-Akrad region in the coastal province of Latkia.

The Syrian Response Coordination Group, a relief group active in northwestern Syria, reported that nearly 200,000 people have fled the violence over the past 10 days.

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