Syria war: Air raid hits children’s hospital in Aleppo

Al Jazeera crew captures dramatic footage of attack as babies are rescued from incubators by panicked staff.

Warning: The above video contains scenes some may find distressing.

An air raid has hit a children’s hospital in Syria’s rebel-held east Aleppo, forcing medical staff to evacuate patients, including several newborn babies still in incubators.

The moment of the attack on Friday was captured by an Al Jazeera crew, including journalist Amro Halabi, who was reporting on survivors of previous Syrian and Russian bombing raids on rebel-held parts of the city.

Halabi was filming a man and his two children, who were suffered breathing problems from an earlier attack, when the room suddenly went dark immediately after a loud explosion.

Nurses and other medical staff were seen scrambling through the blackness, trying to rush the patients out of the badly damaged hospital as children cried out for help. 

In another room, nurses grabbed babies from damaged incubators, with one staff member using a cloth to protect a visibly undernourished child before trying to console a weeping colleague, who was also carrying a newborn.

The nurses later moved the babies to another room, putting them on the floor next to each other and covering them with blankets. At least one of the infants still had medical tubes attached.

Staff told Al Jazeera that all of the babies survived the attack.

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The city of Aleppo, once Syria’s commercial centre, has been divided since 2012, with the eastern half largely in rebel hands and the western half largely controlled by government forces.

More than 250,000 civilians are still trapped in the east, which is under near constant aerial bombardment, with dwindling food supplies and extremely limited medical care.

Hospitals hide underground

Earlier, it was reported that at least 49 people were killed in east Aleppo in a bombardment that started late on Thursday, according to witnesses and activists. Friday was the fourth day of renewed bombing raids by Syrian government jets.

The onslaught began as Syria’s ally Russia announced its own offensive on the rebel-controlled Idlib province in the country’s north and Homs province in the centre.

Syria’s war: Panic as air strikes target rebel-held Aleppo

Since then, more than 100 people have been killed across the north of the country.

A hospital in another Aleppo neighbourhood was also bombed on Thursday night, media reports said.

Only four of seven hospitals are still operating in the district, according to Adham Sahloul, of the Syrian American Medical Society, which supports health facilities in Aleppo.

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The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists in the country to monitor the war, said dozens of air raids, artillery attacks and barrel bombs hit 18 different neighbourhoods of eastern Aleppo.

Government bombs targeted neighbourhoods with medical facilities, including the children’s hospital and a nearby clinic that has one of the few remaining intensive care units in the east of the city, the Observatory said.

Many hospitals and clinics in the besieged area have moved their operations underground after months of relentless bombardment.

The World Health Organization said it recorded 126 attacks on health facilities in 2016, a common tactic over the five years of a war that is estimated to have killed more than 400,000 people.

The Russian and Syrian governments deny deliberately targeting hospitals.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies