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13 dead in attack on hospital in opposition-held Syrian town

BEIRUT (AP) – Missiles hit a hospital in a northern Syrian town controlled by Turkish-backed fighters on Saturday, killing at least 13 people, including two medical staff, and shutting down the facility , said activists and an aid group.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the bombings, which came from areas where government troops and Kurdish-led fighters are deployed.

The governor of Turkey’s Hatay province, across the border with Afrin, also said the attack killed 13 civilians and injured 27, adding that it involved rocket and artillery fire. against the hospital. The governor’s office blamed the attack on Syrian Kurdish groups.

A war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, estimated the death toll at 18. The gap could not be immediately reconciled.

The Syrian American Medical Society, or SAMS, an aid group that helps health centers in opposition areas, said al-Shifaa hospital in Afrin city was targeted by two missiles. The attack destroyed the polyclinic department, emergency room and delivery rooms, the group said.

Two of the 13 people killed were hospital staff and two were ambulance drivers, said SAMS, which supports the hospital. Eleven of its employees were injured. The hospital was taken out of service and patients were evacuated, the group said.

SAMS called for an investigation into the attack on the hospital, one of the largest facilities in northern Syria that offered thousands of medical services every month, including surgeries and maternity wards. Contact details for the hospital, which is funded by USAID as well as UN funds, were shared as part of the UN-led deconfliction mechanism, the group said.

Turkey and allied Syrian fighters took control of Afrin in 2018 in a military operation that expelled local Kurdish fighters and displaced thousands of Kurdish residents. Ankara considers the Kurdish fighters who controlled the terrorists in Afrin. Since then, there have been a series of attacks against Turkish targets in the region.

The office of the governor of the Turkish province of Hatay blamed the attack on the Kurdish group.

The leader of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazloum Abadi, denied that his forces were behind the attack. In a tweet, he said, the US-backed SDF condemned the attack which targeted innocent lives, calling it a violation of international law.

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