PHOTO: White Helmet rescuer with baby rescued from airstrikes near Idlib’s National Hospital
- UN: Kurdish Authorities Block Civilians Fleeing ISIS-Rebel Fighting
- Fears of Confrontation Grow After Detainees Renew Hama Prison Protest
UPDATE 1045 GMT: The Russian Defense Ministry has denied that its warplanes attacked near the National Hospital in Idlib city.
“No combat missions, let alone delivering airstrikes, have been performed by the Russian Air Force in Idlib province,” General Igor Konashenkov said.
The spokesman blamed the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights for the reports of Russian involvement in Monday night’s attacks, which killed more than 50 people.
“We urge people to remain critical of any scare stories spread by the ‘British tandem’ of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Reuters news agency,” Konashenkov said.
However, Idlib residents and activists said they recognized the distinctive signature of a Russian strike.
“[This was] the heaviest bombardment I’ve witnessed since the beginning of the revolution….Russian warplanes targeted civilian centers,” citizen journalist Imad Abu Ayman said.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: At least 50 people have been killed in pro-Assad airstrikes on another hospital in northwest Syria.
In the latest attacks on medical facilities, regime or Russian warplanes struck the National Hospital in opposition-controlled Idlib city.
Residents and activists said that Russian forces likely carried out the strikes with Su-24 attack aircraft.
They said that 15 children are among the dead, and that about 250 people have been injured. Graphic photos have been posted of casualties.
A civil defense volunteer confirmed, “We documented these strikes, and every single target was a civilian one. The majority of the victims are women and children, and we are still searching for survivors from underneath the rubble.”
Holding a young victim, another rescuer said:
We pulled this child from under the rubble. He was together with his parents and two brothers. We spent four hours digging. The rubble on top of them was almost a meter thick. We pulled them out, but unfortunately they were all dead.
Russian and Syrian warplanes have bombed more than 35 medical facilities since Moscow began its aerial intervention last September. In late April, pro-Assad attacks killed 55 people and wounded 80 in the al-Quds hospital in east Aleppo city, and five White Helmets rescuers were slain by five missiles fired on their center in Atarab, west of Aleppo.
Neither Russian nor Syrian State media refer to last night’s airsstrikes and casualties. However, the pro-regime Al-Masdar News headlines, “Hundreds of Casualties as Russian Bombs Rain on Idlib Overnight”.
Iranian State media and pro-Assad Lebanese outlets erase civilian casualties with the claim that “dozens of Takfiri militants have been killed and scores of others injured”.
Attacks Across Northwest Syria Kill Scores
Despite a nominal February 27 cessation of hostilities, Russian and regime airstrikes have continued across opposition-held areas in northwest Syria, killing hundreds of civilians. In addition to the attacks on Idlib city, areas across northern Aleppo Province were bombed again on Monday, taking 40 lives.
Attacks on Hreitan, where more than 20 people died over the weekend:
On Tuesday, the opposition Syrian National Coalition condemned “more than 700 airstrikes on Aleppo [Province]” in 48 hours and cited sieges on 8,000 people in Darayya, southwest of Damascus, and on 250,000 residents of al-Wa’er in Homs city.
The international community’s failure to stop the bombing and besiegement of our civilians causes the deaths of innocents every day across Syria.
Our people are dying, our cities are burning to the ground. and yet the world stands idly by.
UN: Kurdish Authorities Block Civilians Fleeing ISIS-Rebel Fighting
The UN has expressed concern that Kurdish authorities are blocking civilians fleeing an Islamic State offensive against rebels in northwestern Syria.
Thousands of civilians have left areas between the opposition-held towns of Azaz and Mare’, following last week’s ISIS advance that cut off links between them.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces moved into Sheikh Issa, west of Mare’, saying that it reached an agreement with the Free Syrian Army to evacuate civilians. However, pro-opposition activists said that the FSA had no alternative and that the Kurdish militia YPG is looking to seize more territory from rebels in northern Aleppo Province.
The UN said the civilians were blocked by the Kurdish officials in response to rebel shelling of the mainly-Kurdish area of Sheikh Maqsoud in Aleppo city.
“An estimated 7,000 civilians still remain inside and unable to leave due to restrictions imposed by Kurdish authorities,” the UN declared.
Meanwhile, opposition authorities in Azaz, near the Turkish border, have issued a directive to not let in any more people fleeing ISIS-held areas.
The opposition fears infiltration by Islamic State fighters, amid reports of “sleeper cells” that assisted last week’s offensive.
Fears of Confrontation Grow After Detainees Renew Hama Prison Protest
Fears of a violent confrontation are growing after detainees again took control of Hama Prison.
Security forces gathered outside the complex on Monday, days after the inmates protested for the second time in weeks.
The detainees took several hostages last week but soon freed all of them except the police chief, General Ashraf Taha. They said he volunteered to stay with them until a deal is reached.
“We are in danger, and we appeal to all the people, anyone who has a conscience, to stand by us, to help us,” one prisoner pleaded in an audio message.
The detainees said that they had gone three days without water or food and that many are falling ill. However, they said that they are holding out for a deal to free all of them and to allow international monitors into the prisons.
The first protest in early May started after the regime tried to move five detainees to Damascus for execution. It ended after a week with an agreement to free about the 800 prisoners held on “terrorism” charges among the more than 1,200 inmates.
However, although more than 40 detainees were freed during the protest, the further releases have not occurred.
A lawyer for some of the detainees warned on Monday:
The regime is using the policy of starvation and subjugation and exhaustion of detainees’ health to break the prison. After they take it over, they will start to torture these prisoners.
Tens of thousands of people have been “disappeared” in prisons during Syria’s five-year conflict. Estimates of those who have died in detention range up to 60,000.