By Sally Hayden and Reuters
A hospital supported by medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in the Idlib province of northern Syria was “deliberately” hit by air strikes on Monday and eight people are missing, the charity has said in a statement.
“This is a deliberate attack against a health establishment,” said Massimiliano Rebaudengo, head of mission of the NGO also known as Doctors Without Borders. “The destruction of this hospital deprives about 40,000 people of healthcare in this conflict zone.”
MSF said the hospital in Maaret al-Numan was destroyed after being hit by four missiles following two attacks within an interval of a few minutes. At least eight people are unaccounted for. It did not identify the origin of the air strike.
The hospital, which has 54 staff and holds 30 beds, is financed by the medical charity. MSF also supplies medicines and equipment to the facility. A video reportedly showing the aftermath of the bombing showed a large mass of gray smoke rising from the ground as locals shouted in the background.
Also on Monday, a women and children’s hospital was hit in the northern Syrian town of Azaz after seven Russian missiles struck the building, according to a Turkish security official, who said he expected the civilian death toll to rise above 14.
A video reportedly of that bombing showed a large crater where some of the building had been. Several babies’ cribs appear to have been left intact in what remains of the infrastructure, while medical cabinets were forced open — some with their doors smashed off — by the force of the explosion.
Independent Doctors Association, a Syrian NGO organization that runs a hospital in Bab al Salama near the Turkish border, said at least 30 people were wounded in the attacks. The charity says the same hospital was also hit on Christmas day.
Related: Exclusive: Saudi Arabia Admits Bombing MSF Hospital in Yemen — But Faults MSF
Monday’s bombing is not the first incident of an MSF hospital being destroyed or partially destroyed by air strikes: multiple centers run by the non-partisan charity across the world have been bombed in the past days, weeks, and months.
On February 5 at least three people — including a nurse — were killed, when the MSF Tafas field hospital, about 7.5 miles from the Jordanian border in southern Syria, was hit. This caused partial damage to the hospital building, while putting its ambulance service out of action, according to an MSF statement. More than 20,000 people from Tafas fled to the surrounding countryside after the strike.
In October, an MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, was hit repeatedly by US forces, killing at least 42 people. That same month, Saudi Arabia bombed an MSF facility in Yemen, something which they claimed was a “mistake” resulting from MSF supplying them with the wrong coordinates.
This latest strike comes despite a deal between world powers to attempt a nationwide “cessation of hostilities” in Syria, aiming to stop fighting everyone except the Islamic State (IS) and al Nusra Front.
On Sunday, US President Barack Obama also urged Russia on Sunday to stop bombing “moderate” rebels in Syria in support of Russia’s ally President Bashar al Assad, a campaign seen in the West as a major obstacle to latest efforts to end the war.
Related: Another Doctors Without Borders Hospital Has Been Bombed in Syria
Follow Sally Hayden on Twitter: @sallyhayd – Vice News