Syrian and Russian warplanes target health facilities across rebel-held Idlib
Syrian and Russian government warplanes have targeted and damaged three health facilities across rebel-held areas in Syria, according to rescue workers and local NGOs.
The air strikes took place in the northern Syria towns of Jisr al-Shughour, Saraqeb and Maarat al-Numan on Wednesday, the Syrian Expatriates Medical Association (SEMA) said in a statement.
An attack on the national hospital in the town of Jisr al-Shughour killed five people and injured 21 civilians, including two children, according to SEMA, which works closely with that hospital.
The hospital and an ambulance used to ferry the injured were also damaged in the air strike, the group said.
'The attack on civilian areas, a civilian population and medical and health facilities, is a barbaric act'
- Dr Abdulhannan Aljouja, Syrian Expatriates Medical Association
Another facility was struck in Saraqeb, while a third was hit in Maarat al-Numan, SEMA said. Those strikes caused minor damage to the facilities, and no injuries were reported.
The hospital in Jisr al-Shughour was the second health centre in Idlib province to be targeted by Syrian and Russian government warplanes on Wednesday.
Rescue workers from the Syrian Civil Defence Force said the air strikes also targeted its team and paramedics attempting to help the injured.
SEMA said it believed the Syrian government "targeted" the Jisr al-Shughour facility.
"We feel this is a targeted attack on Jisr al-Shughour hospital given that it is a very well-known facility, and in the context of numerous healthcare facilities being attacked over the past three months," Dr Abdulhannan Aljouja, SEMA's Turkey director, said in the statement.
"The attack on civilian areas, a civilian population and medical and health facilities, is a barbaric act that violates the most basic international humanitarian law standards."
Mohamed Katoub from the Syrian American Medical Society said the hospital in Jisr al Shughour was put on a list of medical facilities given to the UN to prevent it from being attacked from warring parties.
Health facilities have been a common target for the Syrian and Russian government throughout the course of the Syrian civil war.
The United Nations says 25 health facilities in Idlib province have been hit since April, despite a September deal between Russia and rebel backer Turkey to avert a massive Syrian government offensive there.
More than 550 civilians have been killed in Syrian and Russian air strikes in northwest Syria since the end of April, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported.
The spike in violence has also caused 330,000 people to flee their homes since 1 May, the UN estimates.