At least 17 people — including three doctors — were killed after an airstrike destroyed one of the last remaining hospitals in a rebel-held southern neighborhood of Aleppo, which was supported by Médecins Sans Frontières.
Mohammed Wasim Moaz, one of the city’s last remaining pediatricians, was confirmed among the dead. At least 14 patients were killed in the attack, which occurred late Wednesday. Photos from the scene show parents passing infants through piles of rubble to try to save their lives. Children are feared to be among the dead.
“MSF-supported hospital in Aleppo destroyed, at least 14 patients and staff killed, toll expected to rise,” the charity organization tweeted Thursday.
The attack comes less than three months after at least 11 people, including patients and medical staff, were killed when a series of missiles struck an MSF-supported clinic in the northwestern Syrian town of Maarat al-Numan.
In that case, the Syrian doctors working in the clinic chose not to provide their coordinates to the army of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, fearing the military would purposely target the facility. MSF runs three of its own hospitals in Syria but supports roughly 150 other clinics and medical facilities, including the one that was struck Wednesday night. It was not immediately clear whether that hospital had given its coordinates to Assad’s forces, but its location was widely known.
Some 200 people have been killed in Aleppo and the surrounding area in the past week after an increased offensive from both sides in the contested city.
Witnesses said the late-night strikes were either carried out by Russian or Syrian forces. It’s difficult to tell the difference between the two, but Moscow has pumped resources into Assad’s forces since Russia began launching airstrikes to support the regime last September. The Syrian Army has denied involvement in Wednesday night’s strike, but after the Maarat al-Numan clinic was destroyed in February, Syrian envoy to the U.N. Bashar al-Jaafari called MSF a “branch of the French intelligence operating in Syria.” He also said those killed were responsible for their deaths because they did not provide their location to the government.
The latest strike came as the United Nations warned that peace talks between the warring parties were on the brink of falling apart. Last week, the High Negotiations Committee, a bloc representing opposition groups and rebels at peace talks in Geneva, left discussions after the Syrian military moved into Aleppo, forcing 40,000 people to flee.
Photo credit: AMEER ALHALBI / Getty Images