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Two Aleppo Hospitals Attacked as Number of Injured Civilians Increases

The hospitals are now out of service.

ByABC News
September 28, 2016, 5:57 PM

LONDON -- Two of the largest hospitals in the besieged part of eastern Aleppo, Syria, have been attacked and are now out of service, as the number of wounded civilians continues to grow, according to a local medical group.

The attack on one hospital, known as M2, an OBGYN and pediatric clinic, killed two patients and injured seven people -- three members of staff and four patients, according to the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), which supports both hospitals. One of the patients was a child from the pediatric intensive care unit and died during transportation to another facility. Intense bombardment from the air trapped more than 90 patients and staff members in the basement of the hospital, according to SAMS.

The second hospital, known as M10, which operates underground and is the largest trauma and ICU center in eastern Aleppo, was targeted by missiles and severely damaged, according to SAMS.

“The place is filled with dust,” Mohamad Abu Rajab, a radiologist and managing director of one the destroyed hospitals, told ABC News. “Warplanes targeted the hospital directly. This attack led to the hospital going out of service. Because of the siege we can’t fix the broken equipment. We are unable to service the people who need it. Today, we are sad. We are sad because we can’t provide the necessary treatment to the patients who need it. We are hoping to go back in service even if at a minimum level.”

The attacks happened at around 4 a.m. local time, SAMS said. Power generators, water reservoirs, respirators and other equipment were destroyed. Dust, rubble and shrapnel fell on patients in their beds. In the same morning, six people were killed in an attack on a bakery in east Aleppo, where up to 275,000 people are living under siege in need of food and other humanitarian assistance, SAMS said.

The patients from the destroyed hospitals were sent to the few functioning hospitals in east Aleppo.

“We are very busy because all the patients from the two hospitals were transferred to the remaining hospitals,” Hamza Khatib, a doctor at an east Aleppo hospital who uses a pseudonym for safety reasons, told ABC News.

The World Health Organization and the Red Cross have called for humanitarian routes to be established in the besieged part of Aleppo so that dozens of sick and injured people can be evacuated. Only some 30 doctors are believed to remain in the besieged eastern part of Aleppo. Airstrikes on the area intensified after the Syrian military declared an offensive against eastern Aleppo on Sept. 22 -- a few days after announcing that a U.S.-Russia-brokered ceasefire had ended.

"These attacks strike at the very heart of what's left of Aleppo's health care system," Donna McKay, executive director of Physicians for Human Rights, a nonprofit group, said of today's hospital attacks. "Intentional attacks on hospitals are war crimes, plain and simple, and the silence from the international community is deafening. The Syrian government and its Russian allies are engaged in an all-out assault on civilians and health care, and until these attacks end, the ongoing suffering and carnage will be a stain on all the world's conscience."

The hospital attacks happened as the number of killed and wounded in parts of Aleppo increases every day. At least eight people were killed by government shelling in Aleppo's al-Maadi area, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Airstrikes on a number of other neighborhoods left several civilians wounded.

On Tuesday, at least 23 people, including 10 children, were killed after airstrikes hit east Aleppo’s neighborhoods of al-Shaar and al-Mashhad. One girl was rescued alive from under the rubble of a destroyed building in al-Shaar. Activists said she lost 16 members of her family in the attack.

Since Friday, at least 96 children have been killed in eastern Aleppo and 223 have been injured, according to UNICEF.

“The children of Aleppo are trapped in a living nightmare,” UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Justin Forsyth said in a statement. “There are no words left to describe the suffering they are experiencing.”

Around 1,000 people have been killed in the past eight days alone after 1,700 airstrikes pounded the besieged part of Aleppo, according to the White Helmets, a group of unarmed, nonpartisan rescue workers in Syria. Nineteen of these strikes involved bunker-buster bombs, which are used to target people sheltering underground, while cluster bombs were used in about 200 of the strikes to maximize the number of injured and killed. Aid workers and members of the civil defense were among the victims.

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