Russia opposes UN call for end to Syria hospital attacks

Russia on Thursday opposed a United Nations Security Council declaration calling for an end to attacks on health facilities in Syria’s Idlib region, diplomats said after the latest meeting over violence in the country’s last major opposition bastion.

The outcome led to a rare statement following the meeting by the UN’s humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock.

“The carnage must stop,” he said.

Russian and regime aircraft have since late April ramped up deadly bombardment of the Idlib region of about three million people in northwest Syria, despite a deal to avert a massive government assault.

Kuwait, Germany and Belgium asked for the hastily called closed-door session, the latest of many they have sought since May in response to worsening fighting in Syria’s northwest.

The draft text, given to journalists and which required unanimous backing to be adopted, expressed “grave concern regarding the recent attacks on hospitals and other health facilities.”

Those included a July 10 attack on Maarat National Hospital, one of the largest in the area whose coordinates had been shared through the UN “deconfliction mechanism” that aims to spare civilian targets.

Russia again denied bombing such facilities.

“I provided information from my ministry of defense” and investigation demonstrated that there were “no attacks at nine out of eleven facilities” allegedly attacked, Moscow’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters.

“The two others were partially damaged but not by Russian” forces, he said.

His British counterpart, Karen Pierce, seemed skeptical.

“There’s some interest in an investigation into the Maarat Hospital hit. So I think that’s the thing to focus on,” she said at the end of the meeting.

“We’ve got our suspicions. But let’s get a proper look into that and get a proper answer.”

Lowcock said after the meeting that since July 1, “at least six health facilities, five schools, three water stations, two bakeries and one ambulance have been damaged or destroyed.

“Entire villages have been destroyed and emptied” because of air strikes, he said.

Regime air strikes on Tuesday killed 11 civilians in Idlib’s south, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

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