U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the attacks on the two largest hospitals in rebel-held areas of the Syrian city of Aleppo as “war crimes.”
His comments came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry threatened to cut off contacts with Russia over Syria unless Russian and Syrian attacks on Aleppo end
Damage from Wednesday’s strikes in Aleppo temporarily knocked the two hospitals out of service, further limiting medical care in a city that has been hit hard by more than five years of fighting.
“Let us be clear. Those using ever more destructive weapons know exactly what they are doing,” Ban told the U.N. Security Council Wednesday. “They know they are committing war crimes.”
The M2 and M10 hospitals are in the part of Aleppo held by rebels who opposed President Bashar al-Assad.
It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attacks on the hospitals. Militaries from Syria, its ally Russia, and as a U.S.-led coalition are all bombing targets in Syria and at various times have blamed each other for airstrikes that hit civilian targets.
Adham Sahloul of the Syrian American Medical Society said Wednesday airstrikes were deliberate, and that there are only 29 doctors left in eastern Aleppo to treat 350,000 people.
Meanwhile, UNICEF said at least 96 children have been killed and 223 have been injured in Eastern Aleppo since Friday.
The health system in Eastern Aleppo is crumbling with some 30 doctors left, hardly any equipment or emergency medicine to treat the injured, and an ever increasing number of trauma cases, a UNICEF statement said.
“Nothing can justify such assaults on children and such total disregard for human life,” a doctor on the ground told UNICEF. “The suffering – and the shock among children – is definitely the worst we have seen.”
Syrian forces this week announced a new offensive to try to regain control of Aleppo. That move follows the breakdown of the latest cease-fire in Syria that was meant to bring deliveries of food and medical aid to Aleppo and other areas along with the break in violence. Few deliveries were made, and a convoy headed for Aleppo was hit by an airstrike.