Jets bomb two hospitals in Syria's Idlib: medics, witnesses

AMMAN (Reuters) - Jets believed to be Russian or Syrian hit two hospitals in rebel-held Idlib province on Thursday following several other strikes on medical facilities in northwestern Syria in recent weeks, residents, medical workers and activists said.

Rescue workers said one strike early on Thursday hit a hospital in Deir al Sharqi, killing at least three medics and injuring others. The second strike hit a cave hospital in Maar Zita village in southern Idlib province where medics said at least five were killed.

"The regime and the Russians are trying to systematically target the remaining hospitals in Idlib to make life for people in liberated areas intolerable," said Younis Abdul Rahim, a civil defense worker who visited both sites.

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Jets bomb two hospitals in Syria's Idlib
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Jets bomb two hospitals in Syria's Idlib
Smoke rises from an emergency service point after an airstrike at the rebel-held village of Maar Zita in Idlib province, Syria April 27, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah
Smoke rises from an emergency service point after an airstrike at the rebel-held village of Maar Zita in Idlib province, Syria April 27, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah
Smoke rises from an emergency service point after an airstrike at the rebel-held village of Maar Zita in Idlib province, Syria April 27, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah
A view shows the damage at a hospital after an airstrike in Deir al-Sharqi village in Idlib province, Syria April 27, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah
A view shows the damage at a hospital after an airstrike in Deir al-Sharqi village in Idlib province, Syria April 27, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah
A view shows the damage at a hospital after an airstrike in Deir al-Sharqi village in Idlib province, Syria April 27, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah
A view shows the damage at a hospital after an airstrike in Deir al-Sharqi village in Idlib province, Syria April 27, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah
A view shows the damage at a hospital after an airstrike in Deir al-Sharqi village in Idlib province, Syria April 27 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah
A view shows the damage at a hospital after an airstrike in Deir al-Sharqi village in Idlib province, Syria April 27 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah
REFILE - UPDATING SLUG A damaged ambulance and hospital are pictured at a site hit by overnight airstrike, in Kafr Takharim, northwest of Idlib city, Syria April 25, 2017. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah
A general view shows the damage following an air strike on a hospital in the village of Deir Sharqi on the eastern outskirts of Maaret al-Numan in Syria's northern province of Idlib, on April 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Omar haj kadour (Photo credit should read OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
A general view shows the damage following an air strike on a hospital in the village of Deir Sharqi on the eastern outskirts of Maaret al-Numan in Syria's northern province of Idlib, on April 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Omar haj kadour (Photo credit should read OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
A general view shows the damage following an air strike on a hospital in the village of Deir Sharqi on the eastern outskirts of Maaret al-Numan in Syria's northern province of Idlib, on April 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Omar haj kadour (Photo credit should read OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
A general view shows the damage following an air strike on a hospital in the village of Deir Sharqi on the eastern outskirts of Maaret al-Numan in Syria's northern province of Idlib, on April 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Omar haj kadour (Photo credit should read OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
A general view shows the damage following an air strike on a hospital in the village of Deir Sharqi on the eastern outskirts of Maaret al-Numan in Syria's northern province of Idlib, on April 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Omar haj kadour (Photo credit should read OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
IDLIB, SYRIA - APRIL 27: Smoke rises after an airstrike to ambulances at Maar Zita town of Maarrat al-Nu'man district in Idlib, Syria on April 27, 2017. (Photo by Bilal Baioush/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
IDLIB, SYRIA - APRIL 27: Civil defence team members try to extinguish fire after an airstrike to ambulances at Maar Zita town of Maarrat al-Nu'man district in Idlib, Syria on April 27, 2017. (Photo by Bilal Baioush/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
IDLIB, SYRIA - APRIL 27: An inside view of a damaged hospital after Russian warcrafts carried out airstrike to a hospital in Deir Sharqi town of Idlib, Syria on April 27, 2017. (Photo by Mohammed Karkas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
IDLIB, SYRIA - APRIL 27: Civil defence team members carry wounded people to ambulances after Russian warcrafts carried out airstrike to a hospital in Deir Sharqi town of Idlib, Syria on April 27, 2017. (Photo by Mohammed Karkas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
IDLIB, SYRIA - APRIL 27: A wheelchair is seen at a damaged hospital after Russian warcrafts carried out airstrike to a hospital in Deir Sharqi town of Idlib, Syria on April 27, 2017. (Photo by Mohammed Karkas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has repeatedly denied that his forces target hospitals or other emergency facilities. Russia, whose air force joined the war on his side in 2015, also denies targeting civilian infrastructure.

Rescue workers say that, although many field hospitals have been moved underground, that has not been enough to protect them from bombs they say have hit at least eight medical facilities since the start of the month.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said it was appalled by the ongoing damage of medical facilities in northern Syria, adding that the destruction was depriving thousands of people of basic health services.

Among the hospitals put out of service was one specializing in maternity and child care, the OCHA said on Wednesday.

An air strike believed to be conducted by either Syrian or Russian jets hit a hospital in Kafr Takharim in Idlib on Tuesday and medical workers said at least 14 were killed, among them patients.

Hospital attacks have killed hundreds of medical personnel since the war began, Kennedy added.

Syrian civil defense emergency workers who track jet movement and radio traffic to warn civilians of potential air strikes say Syria's air force and Russian jets have recently intensified their bombardment of Idlib province.

Tens of thousands of displaced Syrians have found refuge in the province that borders Turkey after being driven out of their homes. It is a main stronghold of the opposition forces, mainly Islamist-led rebel groups.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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