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Mortar fire wounds 14 in Syria mental hospital

Syrians inspect damage at a psychiatric hospital after it was hit by mortar fire leaving at least one patient killed and over a dozen wounded, in the rebel-held town of Azaz in northern Syria on Friday. (AFP)
AZAZ, Syria: Mortar fire on a town in northern Syria held by Turkish-backed fighters wounded at least 14 people in a psychiatric hospital, a monitor said on Friday.
The Thursday evening fire on the town of Azaz just across the border from Turkey came after Ankara bombarded the adjacent Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin for five straight days ahead of a threatened invasion.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, said the mortar rounds were fired by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed alliance dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
But SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali denied that the alliance fired the rounds that hit the hospital, when asked by AFP.
Turkey’s military said the civilian hospital was hit by artillery fired by Syrian Kurdish militia on Friday, wounding several people who were brought to Turkey for treatment.
Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said most of the wounded were among the more than 100 patients being treated at the hospital, many for post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from Syria’s near seven-year civil war.
Paramedics transferred the wounded patients to a nearby clinic, an AFP correspondent reported. One had lost several fingers. The mortar fire destroyed a second story wall of the hospital, showering the beds of the ward with debris.
Russia has some 300 military observers deployed in Afrin.

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