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Pro-government air strikes in southern Syria hit three hospitals

According to the UN, more than 50,000 people have fled the fighting near Daraa
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says government assault has killed 47 civilians since 19 June (AFP)

Bombardment by pro-government forces of rebel-held southwestern Syria forced three hospitals out of service overnight as a Russian-backed assault gathered pace, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and a medical relief group said.

The medical facilities were located in the towns of Saida, al-Jiza and al-Musayfra near the Jordanian border to the east of Daraa city. The Observatory said it had no immediate information on the fate of medical staff or the patients inside the facilities.

Earlier this month, the Syrian government launched a major offensive to recover the area from rebels, which the United Nations says has so far forced up to 50,000 people to flee towards the Jordanian border.

Jordan, which already hosts more than 650,000 Syrian refugees, has said it will not open the border.

The UK-based Observatory says some 47 civilians have been killed since the government assault started on 19 June.

State-run TV station al-Ikhbariya said the electricity supply to Daraa city - which is divided between rebels and the government - had been cut because rebel groups it identified as "terrorist organisations" targeted a power line in al-Musayfra, 20km to the east.

State news agency SANA said air strikes on Daraa were a prelude to an "advance into the southeastern quarter of the city".

The Observatory said heavy Russian and Syrian raids, rockets and barrel bombs were still hitting rebel-held neighbourhoods on Wednesday morning.

Ahmad al-Dbis, safety and security manager at UOSSM, a medical charity that works in opposition parts of Syria, said the bombardment had caused "material damage" to the three hospitals on Wednesday.

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"In addition, a civil defence centre in al-Musayfra was struck and damaged," added Dbis, who is based in northern Syria.

The scope of the government attack widened further to target the rebel-held town Saida for the first time. Activists identified the warplanes which struck it as Russian. Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said a total of five hospitals had been targeted in the campaign so far.

The Syrian government has previously denied targeting medical facilities in the seven-year-long war.

But the monitor which relies on a network of sources inside Syria, says it analyses flight patterns, the aircraft involved and ammunition used, to determine who carries out air strikes.