Assad warplanes rain death on Aleppo hospitals

Injured boys at a field hospital after airstrikes on Aleppo, Syria, on Friday. (Reuters)
Updated 19 November 2016
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Assad warplanes rain death on Aleppo hospitals

BEIRUT: Doctors and nurses at a pediatric hospital in eastern Aleppo scrambled Friday to evacuate babies in incubators from underground shelters to safety after the facility in the besieged Syrian city was bombed for the second time this week.

Medics and aid workers also reported a suspected attack involving toxic gas in a district on the western edge of the province. At least 12 people, including children, were treated for breathing difficulties, said Adham Sahloul of the Syrian American Medical Society which supports health facilities in Aleppo.

International inspectors have held the government responsible for using chemicals in attacks on civilians which Damascus denies.

Airstrikes also hit a village in a rural area of Aleppo province, killing seven members of a family, including four children, opposition activists said.

Friday was the fourth day of renewed assaults by Syrian warplanes on districts of eastern Aleppo, an enclave of 275,000 people. The onslaught began Tuesday when Syria’s ally, Russia, announced its own offensive on the northern rebel-controlled Idlib province and Homs province in central Syria.

Since then, more than 100 people have been killed across northern Syria.

Friday’s airstrikes in Aleppo hit a complex of four hospitals that had been attacked two days earlier. The latest strikes forced the pediatric hospital and a neighboring facility to stop operating.

“Now it is being bombed. ... I am sorry. ... I have to go to transfer the children,” the head of the pediatric hospital wrote in a text message to The Associated Press.

The incubators had already been moved underground for safety, but with bombs falling all around the facility, hospital workers had to rush them to a safer place despite the danger.
Nurses rushed to get babies to safety, and one was seen carrying a blanket-wrapped infant. She then hugged and comforted another nurse who was sobbing as she picked up a baby.

Mohamad Abboush, an east Aleppo resident, said that the airstrikes killed two of his relatives, his 45-year-old uncle and 12-year-old cousin, on Friday morning. As they sought medical care for other relatives wounded in the attack, he said they found one hospital in ruins and another in flames.

The airstrike had completely destroyed a four-story apartment block where his relatives had been living in the Tariq Al-Bab neighborhood, he said. The survivors had been taken to houses in another area, but nowhere was safe. “The whole of Aleppo is being bombed,” he said.

In Geneva, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said that if investigators identified who was to blame for the deadly Sept. 19 attack on the UN aid convoy in Syria, the “war crime” could be brought to the UN Security Council.

The US has said it believes two Russian aircraft carried out the strike near Aleppo, which killed 20 people, destroyed a warehouse and 18 trucks, and shattered a one-week truce. Russia has denied involvement.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched an independent board of inquiry into the attack, which UN satellite imagery experts said was an airstrike.

“We now have a three-person board of inquiry. And they are in the area, I believe, and were a couple of days ago, even last week I think, and are working on it,” Eliasson told a news conference.

“Of course we know that it’s a difficult mission because it’s a place where access is very difficult,” he added.

“We know of course that manipulation of evidence can take place and evidence can disappear and so forth.”

Meanwhile, a US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance fought fiercely to drive Daesh from a hilltop north of Raqqa — the de facto capital of the terror group.


Libya rivals clash south of capital, causing blackouts

Updated 18 September 2018
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Libya rivals clash south of capital, causing blackouts

  • Tuesday morning’s clashes centered on the main road to Tripoli’s long-closed international airport
  • Libya’s National Electricity Company said its network had been damaged, causing a total blackout across the country

TRIPOLI: New clashes flared between rival militias south of Libya’s capital Tripoli on Tuesday, causing widespread power outages, the national electricity firm said.
The fighting underscored the fragility of a United Nations-backed cease-fire reached earlier this month after days of deadly violence between armed groups in the capital, beset by turmoil since the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
Tuesday morning’s clashes centered on the main road to Tripoli’s long-closed international airport, according to witnesses including an AFP journalist.
Libya’s National Electricity Company said its network had been damaged, causing a total blackout across the North African nation’s south and west.
Fighting which broke out late last month killed at least 63 people and wounded 159 others — mostly civilians — before the cease-fire came into effect on September 4.
Last week, the capital’s only working airport came under rocket fire just days after reopening following the truce.
Mitiga International Airport, located in a former military base that includes a prison, is currently controlled by the Special Deterrence Forces, a Salafist militia which serves as Tripoli’s police force and has been involved in clashes around the capital.
Interior Minister Abdessalam Ashour said Monday that a “regular force” would be tasked with securing the airport.
UN envoy Ghassan Salame later reported 14 cease-fire violations around Tripoli, but sought to play them down, saying the deal had been “generally respected.”
Tripoli’s main airport has been out of action since it was severely damaged by similar clashes in 2014.
Since Qaddafi’s fall in 2011, oil-rich Libya has been rocked by violence between dozens of armed groups vying for control of its cities and vast oil resources.
A UN-brokered agreement signed in Morocco in December 2015 established the Government of National Accord (GNA) in a bid to ease the chaos.
But deep divisions remain between the GNA and rivals including military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is based in eastern Libya and backs a competing authority.
The GNA last week announced a series of measures to secure the capital and curb the influence of militias over state institutions and banks.