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Syria: Artillery shells hit Save the Children-backed hospital in Idlib

Attack wounds seven people, leaving one in critical condition, UK-based charity says
UN has established probe into attacks on hospitals in rebel-held province (AFP/File photo)

A hospital supported by Save the Children in northwest Syria's rebel-held Idlib province was attacked on Thursday, wounding seven people including a doctor, the UK-based charity said.

The facility in the town of Maaret al-Numan was "hit by artillery shells" at a time it was treating 60 patients, including children, Save the Children said in a statement.

One of the victims is in critical condition, the group said, without specifying the source of the attack.

"Yet again, civilians are paying the price of a long, deadly conflict. This facility was offering critical help to hundreds of men, women and children," said Save the Children spokesperson Amjad Yamin.

Idlib has endured a fierce bombing campaign by Syrian government forces and their Russian allies, who launched an offensive earlier this year to recapture the province, the last remaining rebel stronghold.

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The conflict has displaced hundreds of thousands of people from the province, which is already home to a large internally displaced population.

Last week, Moscow and Damascus announced a unilateral ceasefire in the area.

Opposition activists accuse the Syrian government of deliberately targeting dozens of hospital in Idlib.

Early in August, the United Nations established an investigative "board of inquiry" to look into the bombing of UN-supported medical facilities in northwest Syria. 

In its statement on Thursday, Save the Children urged an end to the fighting, calling on the warring sides to respect international humanitarian law and refrain from attacking hospitals and schools.

"Save the Children is calling on all parties to stop this war on children," the statement said. 

"The Syrian conflict must not be allowed to become the moment where the violation of fundamental human rights and international laws designed to protect vulnerable children becomes the new normal."