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Raids hit three hospitals in northern Syria: Monitor

Jets from Russian aircraft carrier conduct first strikes in Syria, according to military sources

An injured child at the University hospital in a government-held neighbourhood in Aleppo on 3 November 2016 (AFP)

Three hospitals in rebel-held areas of northern Syria have been hit by air raids in the past 24 hours, leaving medical staff and patients wounded, a monitor said on Tuesday.

Jets from a Russian aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranean carried out their first strikes in Syria on Tuesday, according to military sources. 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it could not immediately determine whether the strikes in Aleppo province had been carried out by Russian or Syrian government aircraft.

One hospital in the village of Awijel in the west of the province was hit during the night.

Among the wounded were patients who had been moved there after a hospital in the nearby village of Kafr Naha was hit on Monday, the Britain-based monitoring group said.

A third hospital - in the town of Atareb - was hit five times in the early hours of Monday, the group added. The strikes destroyed operating rooms and the hospital pharmacy, damaged ambulances and wounded medical staff.

The hospitals in Atareb and Kafr Naha have both been hit by previous air strikes.

Human rights groups have accused the Syrian government and its ally Russia of deliberately targeting medical facilities in rebel-held areas, a claim both Damascus and Moscow deny.

In recent months, the government has been engaged in a major offensive aimed at recapturing rebel-held areas of Aleppo.

Some of the main hospitals in the city's eastern sector have been destroyed by the accompanying air and artillery bombardment.

Russian plane crash

And as Syrian and Russian air strikes reportedly killed dozens in rebel-held areas of Aleppo and Idlib, a Russian warplane crashed into the eastern Mediterranean as it was coming in to land on the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier off the coast of Syria, the Russian defence ministry said on Monday.

The pilot of the MiG-29 jet ejected and his life was not in danger, according to the official account. The ministry attributed the crash to a “technical fault” during an exercise.

The plane was one of four MiG-29 fighter-bombers on the Kuznetsov and its loss undermines what was intended to be a display of Russian naval might in the Mediterranean in support of the Russian war effort in Syria.

“An aviation accident with carrier-based fighter MiG-29K occurred during exercise flights as a result of a technical fault during the approach landing a few kilometers from the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft-carrying cruiser,” ministry officials, quoted by the Sputnik news agency, said.

Rebel groups unite

Meanwhile, various rebel groups in Aleppo announced the formation of a unified leadership committee that will be responsible for coordinating attacks against government-led forces on Aleppo’s neighbourhoods and villages.

The committee includes all the armed rebel groups in Aleppo including Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, reported Al Jazeera.

The announcement came after residents in Aleppo received messages from the army giving opposition fighters 24 hours to leave.

The messages warned that the Syrian army would begin using high technology weapons to target rebel fighters in rebel-controlled areas of Aleppo.

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