Damascus, April 28 (IANS) The Syrian army on Thursday denied reports about an air strike on a rebel-held hospital in the country’s northern city of Aleppo that left 17 people killed.
Citing a military source, Syrian national TV said the reports were aimed “to help the rebels cover their crimes against the innocent people of Aleppo”.
Earlier in the day, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the army shelled a hospital in Al-Sukary neighbourhood of Aleppo, Xinhua news agency reported.
The charity Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) said 17 people, three doctors and 14 patients, were killed in an air strike on its hospital in Aleppo.
MSF sources blamed the Syrian government or Russian war planes for the attack, but there was no official comment.
Meanwhile, Syrian media said the rebels have shelled several residential areas in Aleppo on Thursday, killing 14 people.
The upsurge in violence comes amid reports that the Syrian army, backed by Russian air power, is gearing up for a major offensive in Aleppo.
The escalation has threatened to derail the UN-brokered peace talks, which resumed last month.
On Wednesday, the UN envoy to Syria urged the US and Russia to intervene “at the highest level” to save the talks.
“MSF-supported hospital in Aleppo destroyed, at least 14 patients and staff killed, toll expected to rise,” MSF tweeted on Thursday.
It said the hospital was well known locally and had been hit by a direct air strike on Wednesday.
“We condemn the destruction of the Al-Quds hospital, depriving people of essential healthcare,” the charity added.
An activist at the scene, Zuhair, said the buildings around the hospital were also hit.
“It was an air strike by two rockets, heavy rockets from [a] Russian air strike,” he said.
The civil defence agency, which is staffed by volunteers, said the hospital and surrounding buildings were hit by four consecutive air strikes.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said among the killed was the city’s last paediatrician Mohammed Wasim Moaz, 36.