Aleppo hospital hit as Syria army presses assault

The biggest hospital in east Aleppo was hit by two barrel bombs on Saturday trapping medical workers inside.

A Syrian medic inspects the damage at the site of a medical facility after it was hit by Syrian regime barrel bombs on October 1, 2016, in the rebel-held neighbourhood of Al Sakhour, in Aleppo. AFP / THAER MOHAMMED
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Aleppo // The largest hospital in rebel-held eastern Aleppo was bombed on Saturday for the second time in days as Syrian government forces pressed a Russian-backed offensive to retake the entire city.

Aleppo, once Syria’s vibrant commercial powerhouse, is now at the heart of a major military campaign by President Bashar Al Assad’s fighters and his steadfast ally Moscow.

The offensive, announced on September 22, has killed dozens of civilians and flattened residential buildings in the east, where an estimated 250,000 people live under government siege.

As the situation for civilians grows increasingly dire, the biggest hospital in east Aleppo was hit by two barrel bombs on Saturday, the medical organisation that supports it said.

“Two barrel bombs hit the M10 hospital and there were reports of a cluster bomb as well,” said Adham Sahloul of the Syrian American Medical Society (Sams).

Mr Sahloul said a small group of patients and doctors “were inside the hospital for basic triage, bandaging, and cleaning services for emergency cases” when the bombardment began and remain trapped there.

Sams radiologist and hospital administrator Mohammad Abu Rajab made an urgent call for help on Saturday morning from inside M10.

“The hospital is being destroyed! SOS, everyone!” he said in an audio message.

M10 had already been hit on Wednesday along with the second-largest hospital in the area, known as M2, in what UN chief Ban Ki-moon denounced as “war crimes.”

That bombardment heavily damaged the two facilities and left only six fully-functional hospitals in the city’s east.

At the bombed hospital, blood-stained hospital beds and dented equipment lay in disarray beneath blown-out windows, while medical staff in green scrubs picked through the rubble outside to assess the damage.

In west Aleppo, rebel rocket fire killed 15 civilians and wounded 40 on Friday, state television reported.

The assault has seen government forces seize territory in both the Suleiman Al Halabi neighbourhood in the city centre, as well on the northern edges of Aleppo.

*Agence France-Presse