Dozens killed in 'brutal' Russian airstrikes on Idlib marketplaces and hospital

Dozens killed in 'brutal' Russian airstrikes on Idlib marketplaces and hospital
Scores of civilians have been killed as suspected Russian planes target two marketplaces and a hospital in Idlib province, amid an escalating offensive against the Syrian opposition.
2 min read
31 January, 2018
Russia and the regime are replicating tried-and-tested tactics to subdue the rebels' civilian supporters [Getty]
Suspected Russian warplanes conducted airstrikes on a busy marketplace in a Syrian opposition stronghold in Idlib province on Tuesday, killing at least 15 people.

The planes were flying at high altitudes, which differentiated them from their Syrian counterparts which are older and fly lower, according to Reuters.

At least 20 people have been reported wounded by the attack which targeted the village of Ariha, a Syrian opposition stronghold in northwestern Syria's Idlib province.

Video footage emerged on social media showing extensive damage to buildings in the marketplace caused by the strike.

The Syrian regime-controlled media has not yet reported on the strikes.

The Russian military have been conducting extensive strikes on Syrian opposition-held areas in Idlib in recent days, notably on civilian targets.

On Monday, dozens more were killed as multiple airstrikes hit a hospital and marketplace in Saraqab City, Idlib.

The Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) supported Owdai hospital was forced to shut down after it was targeted by two strikes that hit its entrance and waiting room, just as victims of an earlier strike on the town's marketplace were being admitted for urgent treatment.

The Saraqab marketplace strike killed at least 11, with at least five killed in the hospital attack, including a child. Dozens more have been injured in the string of attacks, including hospital staff. 

The Owdai hospital was forced to close for three days after the bombing blew out the building's windows and damaged electrical generators.

The forced closure is expected to have a significant impact on the health needs of the surrounding region, especially as airstrikes intensify sparking mass displacement of Syrian civilians.

"This latest incident demonstrates the brutality with which healthcare is coming under attack in Syria. The fact that this attack occurred on a facility while it was treating incoming patients is particularly egregious and a clear violation of international humanitarian law," said Luis Montiel, MSF's country manager in northern Syria.

Tens of thousands of Syrian families have fled their homes and set up makeshift camps near the Turkish border, facing freezing winter conditions and limited food, water and healthcare supplies.

"The population in this area is enduring new hardships and medical needs will likely rise. The loss of Owdai hospital will have a significant impact on people already in distress," Montiel added.

The 18-bed Owdai hospital is the only public hospital in Saraqab District in rural eastern Idlib, serving a population of 50,000, according to MSF.

Agencies contributed to this report.