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Airstrike destroys hospital in Syria as cease-fire falters

Airstrikes in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo destroyed a hospital Wednesday night, killing at least 27 people including 14 patients and staff.

The 34-bed hospital, located in rebel-held territory, included an emergency room and obstetric unit supported by Doctors Without Borders and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

“This devastating attack has destroyed a vital hospital in Aleppo, and the main referral center for pediatric care in the area,” said Muskilda Zancada, Doctors Without Borders’ head of mission in Syria, in a statement. “Where is the outrage among those with the power and obligation to stop this carnage?”

Secretary of State John Kerry said the attack appeared to be “a deliberate strike on a known medical facility and follows the Assad regime’s appalling record of striking such facilities and first responders.”

According to various monitors, other airstrikes in the city killed dozens more.

People search for survivors at a site hit by airstrikes in the rebel-held al-Kalaseh neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria on April 28. Photo by Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters

People search for survivors at a site hit by airstrikes in the rebel-held al-Kalaseh neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria on April 28. Photo by Abdalrhman Ismail/Reuters

Rebels responded to the attack, presumably by government forces, by firing mortars and rockets into the government-controlled side of Aleppo, hitting mostly civilian areas. Casualties, reportedly mostly civilian, were brought to Al Razi Hospital, also in Aleppo.

Despite a cease-fire that went into effect in February, human rights groups have reported continued loss of life. Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, is at the frontlines in the battle between government and rebel forces in the five-year civil war.

Marianne Gasser, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross mission in Syria, pleaded with the warring parties to spare civilians.

“Don’t attack hospitals, don’t use weapons that cause widespread damage. Otherwise, Aleppo will be pushed further to the brink of humanitarian disaster,” she said in a statement.

The increase in fighting makes it difficult for aid organizations to replenish food and medical supplies for residents, she said.

President Barack Obama announced this week that he approved sending 250 more American troops to Syria to add to the 50 special forces already there to fight Islamic State militants.

Anne Barnard of the New York Times describes why attacks in Syria appear to be targeting hospitals and schools.

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