Middle East

Air strike destroys hospital in Idlib's Maaret al-Numan

Russia accused of bombing central hospital in Maaret al-Numan in Idlib province, injuring several people.

More than half of all hospitals’ staff have no training to respond to air strikes, reports say [File: Mohammed Badra/EPA]

Suspected Russian fighter jets have bombed a hospital in a city in the northern province of Idlib, wounding several people, a rescue group said.

At least ten people were injured when three strikes targeted the main hospital in Maaret al-Numan on Sunday evening, destroying the building, a Syrian Civil Defence official told Al Jazeera.

Syria's war: Dozens killed in Idlib air strikes

"At around 7:30pm last night suspected Russian warplanes targeted the hospital, destroying most of the building. As our rescue team were inspecting the damage and rescuing those injured another air strike struck the hospital, injuring at least ten people," he told Al Jazeera.

"Most of the emergency and surgery rooms have been destroyed. Rescuers evacuated the hospital and transferred the patients to other medical facilities," the official, identifying himself only as Hamid, added.

The Syrian Civil Defence, a rescue group also known as the White Helmets, operates mostly in opposition territory.

"For the past week, Idlib has been targeted by ongoing air strikes, and after yesterday's attack, one of its main hospitals has been mostly destroyed and can no longer function," Majd Khalaf, another member of the Syrian Civil Defence, told Al Jazeera. 

Hospitals targeted

Last week, a hospital in Syria's Hama province, supported by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) was also hit in an air strike, MSF reported on Friday.

"Latamneh hospital in northern Hama governorate was targeted by a bomb dropped by a helicopter, which hit the entrance of the building. Information collected by the hospital medical staff suggests that chemical weapons were used.

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"Immediately after the impact, patients and staff reported suffering severe respiratory symptoms and burning of mucous membranes - symptoms consistent with an attack using chemicals," MSF reported on their website.

The group said at least two people were killed as a result of the attack, including Doctor Darwish, the hospital's orthopaedic surgeon. At least 13 people were transferred for treatment to other facilities.

"The loss of Dr Darwish leaves just two orthopaedic surgeons for a population of around 120,000," Massimiliano Rebaudengo, MSF's head of mission in northern Syria, said.

Over the past year, MSF has received reports of at least 71 attacks on at least 32 health facilities, which it runs or supports in Syria.

Hospital staff struggle to respond

The Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM), another medical organisation, released a report on Sunday that said at least 107 hospitals examined in Aleppo, Idlib, Latakia, Hama, Deraa, Quneitra, and Homs were targeted at least once by direct or indirect air strikes.

Some hospitals were hit as many as 25 times. The average hospital was attacked three times, UOSSM said in the report.

More than half of all hospitals' staff had no training to prepare for or respond to air strikes, or to document air strikes; and one third of the hospitals' staff had no experience in occupational safety or risk management.

Source: Al Jazeera News