Deadly missile attack targets Afrin hospital in Syria | Bashar al-Assad News

The bombing, in an area controlled by Turkish-backed fighters, left at least 13 dead and 27 injured.

At least 13 people, including two medical staff, were killed and several others injured in two separate artillery attacks in the northern Syrian town of Afrin, controlled by Turkish-backed fighters, activists and an aid group announced on Sunday.

The first attack hit a residential area, while the second hit a hospital soon after, civil defense sources told Reuters news agency. Video footage on social media showed victims amid the ruins of al-Shifa hospital, which was decommissioned after the attack.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the bombings, which apparently came from areas where Syrian government troops and Kurdish-led fighters are deployed.

The governor of Turkey’s Hatay province, across the border with Afrin, and the Turkish defense ministry also said the attack killed 13 civilians and injured 27, adding that it involved rocket and artillery fire at the hospital. The governor’s office blamed the attack on Syrian Kurdish groups.

Members of the Syrian Civil Defense (White Helmets) search the rubble of al-Shifa hospital after the bombing of the rebel-held city of Afrin in northern Syria [Bakr Al-Kasem/AFP]

Ankara condemned the attack, saying it was launched by the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which form the backbone of the United States-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF said it was not behind the attacks.

Ankara considers the YPG to be a “terrorist” group linked to the Kurdish separatist group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), inside Turkey. The PKK is referred to as a “terrorist group” by the United States and the European Union.

Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimated the death toll at 18. Al Jazeera was unable to verify conflicting death toll figures.

“The bombardment targeted several areas of the city and hit the hospital,” said the director of the Syrian Observatory Rami Abdurrahman, quoted by the AFP news agency.

The artillery fire came from the north of Aleppo province “where militias loyal to Iran and the [Syrian] regime are deployed near areas managed by Kurdish forces, ”he added.

The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), an aid group that assists health centers in opposition areas, confirmed that the hospital was targeted by two missiles that destroyed the polyclinic department, the emergency room and delivery rooms.

Two of the 13 killed were hospital staff and two were ambulance drivers, the ASSM said. Eleven employees were injured.

SAMS said the hospital was one of the largest facilities in northern Syria that offered thousands of medical services each month and that its contact details were shared as part of the United Nations-led deconfliction mechanism.

Afrin was largely cleared of YPG fighters in 2018 thanks to a military operation by Turkey. Ankara now maintains a significant military presence in the region, deploying thousands of troops.

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