UN Security Council denounces attacks on hospitals in war zones

May 4, 2016 10:00 am

The Security Council unanimously adopts a resolution condemning attacks on hospitals in war zones at the headquarters in New York, May 3, 2016. (Photo by Xinhua)

The Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution condemning attacks on medical facilities and humanitarian personnel in .
The resolution was adopted by the 15-nation council on Tuesday after foreign-backed militants launched an assault in Aleppo and fired rockets on a hospital.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said militant rockets had killed 19 people in government-held territory, including an unspecified number at the al-Dabit hospital.
Addressing the council meeting, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said, “Intentional and direct attacks on hospitals are war crimes. Denying people access to essential health care is a serious violation of international humanitarian law.”
“Parties to conflict must allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of impartial humanitarian relief, including medical missions,” he said.
There have also been reports of airstrikes blamed on the Syrian government against hospitals in Aleppo but Damascus has denied those allegations and pointed the finger at the US and its allies. International President of Doctors without Borders (MSF) Joanne Liu told the council that hospitals must not be attacked or forcibly entered by warring sides.
“Medical ethics cannot be buried by war,” Liu said, adding, “In Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen, hospitals are routinely bombed, raided, looted or burned to the ground.”
She said that precise attacks on hospitals are described by perpetrators as “mistakes, or denied outright, or are simply met with silence,” calling on all countries to “stop these attacks.”
“In reality, they amount to massive, indiscriminate and disproportionate civilian targeting in settings. In the worst cases, they are acts of terror,” Liu said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that at least 80 others were wounded in the shelling of government-held areas of Aleppo on Tuesday.
The Syrian army issued a statement, saying al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham, and Jaysh al-Islam terrorist groups carried out the shelling attacks.
Over the past few days, foreign-backed militants have conducted rocket attacks on several government-controlled neighborhoods in Aleppo, leaving heavy casualties and seriously shaking a ceasefire deal.
The United States, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are providing weapons, funds and political support to militants fighting to topple the Syrian government. 
Last week, the US rejected a Russian request for the UN to add Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham to a blacklist that includes Daesh and al-Qaeda.
The rejection coincided with the arrival of 150 US special forces which Washington says would be fighting Daesh. 
President Barack Obama has announced the deployment of 250 more troops to Syria, which would bring the number of US special forces in the war-torn country to 300.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for closing the Syrian-Turkish border after meeting with the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura on Tuesday.
He also urged the US to exert a positive influence on the international support group for Syria to ensure no unreasonable demands are made by some members in the future. 
US Secretary of State John Kerry, however, warned Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday of “repercussions” if he does not move forward with a political transition which includes militant demands that the Syrian president step down.   
Lavrov also stressed that Russia insists the border between Syria and Turkey should be closed to cut off supplies for terrorists in Syria.
“We very much hope that the United Nations Secretariat’s report will find solutions on those facts regarding how terrorist organizations use the Syrian-Turkish border as supply channel,” he said.
“We stress that those channels that deliver weapons and personnel supplies to terrorists must be shut down,” he added.
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