UN Urges Russia to End ‘Carnage’ against Syria Health Facilities
The United Nations humanitarian chief condemned on Thursday Russia for blocking a Security Council resolution calling for an end to attacks on health facilities in Syria's Idlib region.
"The carnage must stop," said Mark Lowcock.
Russian and regime aircraft have since late April ramped up deadly bombardment of the opposition-held Idlib region of about three million people in northwest Syria, despite a deal to avert a massive regime assault.
Kuwait, Germany and Belgium asked for the hastily called closed-door session, the latest of many they have sought since May in response to worsening fighting in Syria's northwest.
The draft text, given to journalists, expressed "grave concern regarding the recent attacks on hospitals and other health facilities," including a July 10 attack on Maarat National Hospital, one of the largest in the area and whose coordinates had been shared through the UN "deconfliction mechanism" that aims to spare civilian targets.
Russia again denied bombing such facilities.
"I provided information from my ministry of defense" and investigation demonstrated that there were "no attacks at nine out of eleven facilities" allegedly attacked, Moscow's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters.
"The two others were partially damaged but not by Russian" forces, he said.
His British counterpart, Karen Pierce, seemed skeptical.
"There's some interest in an investigation into the Maarat Hospital hit. So I think that's the thing to focus on," she said at the end of the meeting.
"We've got our suspicions. But let's get a proper look into that and get a proper answer."
Lowcock said after the meeting that since July 1, "at least six health facilities, five schools, three water stations, two bakeries and one ambulance have been damaged or destroyed.
"Entire villages have been destroyed and emptied" because of airstrikes, he said.
Regime airstrikes on Tuesday killed 11 civilians in Idlib's south, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The region on Turkey's doorstep is administered by Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, but other extremist and opposition groups are also present.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres last week strongly condemned airstrikes in the region following reports from a Syrian doctors' group that four health facilities including the Maarat al-Numan facility were hit during a single day of bombing.
Syria's war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-regime protests.