Doha, Qatar – Scores of patients, children and nurses have been killed and dozens of others injured in a gas explosion in a clinic located in Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah, a monitoring group and activists say.
A fire caused by Sunday’s explosion of a gas canister at the Maysaloun clinic in Qamishli left at least 40 people killed and dozen others badly injured, activists told Al Jazeera.
“The fire took place east of the city at the Maysaloun clinic. We had just begun a vaccination campaign for the children with the help of the UN,” a local activist who requested to remain anonymous said.
“The death toll could rise to 50, including nurses, women and children. We found 18 burnt bodies, it was horrific. We have cases of second and third degree burns.”
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said dozens of people were killed in the fire, and did not report a final death toll yet.
The Syrian Observatory said that many of those wounded are in critical condition and suffered extreme burns, adding that the reason behind the explosion has not been determined.
The group also confirmed the death of at least 65 people overnight due to government air strikes on the city of Qamishli. The death toll includes 22 civilians and 43 fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
ISIL launched an assault on the largely Kurdish city of Hasakah last week, as they clashed with pro-government National Defence Forces for control of the city .
ISIL advance in Aleppo
In another development, ISIL fighters advanced against rival armed groups in Aleppo on Sunday, capturing towns close to the Turkish border.
The Syrian Observatory reported that at least 50 fighters have been killed during clashes in the past two days.
The towns overrun by ISIL include Soran Azaz, al-Bel and al-Hasila. Soran Azaz is only 10km away from the city of Azaz and Bab al-Salam crossing into Turkey.
The Syrian Observatory added that at least three children were killed in air strikes on a rebel-held neighbourhood in Aleppo.
A series of barrel bombs dropped by the government on Saturday killed at least 75 people and wounded dozens in Aleppo province.