At least four staff members and nine patients died after a medical facility in a remote northern Syrian village was bombed late on Tuesday.
The facility — supported by the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations (UOSSM) — in rebel-held Khan Tuman was leveled by an air strike at around 11 p.m. local time (4 p.m. ET) Tuesday night. Two ambulance drivers and two nurses were killed in the immediate blast.
A fifth — another nurse — was critically injured and rushed over the border to Turkey for urgent medical care, UOSSM told BuzzFeed News.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said nine rebel fighters, who were patients at the facility, were also killed. The rebels were believed to have been members of Jaish al-Fatah, a group that works alongside the Free Syrian Army, the BBC reported. It is unclear who attacked the Khan Tuman facility.
The attack follows an air strike on an aid convoy en route to the besieged city of Aleppo yesterday. On Tuesday, United Nations officials told BuzzFeed News the convoy's coordinates had been shared with all parties involved in the conflict.
Eighteen lorries were damaged and 20 civilians were killed in the attack, which has been described as a possible war crime.
Zedoun Al Zoubi, CEO of UOSSM International, said the strike on his organization's facility – coming soon after the attack on the convoy – was yet another indication that targeting medical operations had become a feature of the Syrian conflict.
"The most dangerous profession in Syria right now is medicine," Al Zoubi told BuzzFeed News via phone from Turkey. "There is one airstrike every 17 hours, because there is a clear message to us that we don’t want you to help the Syrian people."
But Al Zoubi said the 1,000 UOSSM staff operating in the country would keep working. "We will not stop," he said. "If we do, who will help?"
The destroyed facility was a medical triage point, caring for about 750 wounded patients a month.
“The building was three stories, two of which were above ground and one story was underground, but due to the intensity of the bombing all three levels collapsed, and are now buried underground," Dr. Ahmad Dbais, UOSSM director of hospitals and trauma in the northern region, said in the statement.
Dr. Khaula Sawah, CEO of UOSSM USA, called the attack a “deplorable act against healthcare workers and medical facilities". He called on those responsible to be held accountable, and said the air strike was "a clear violation" of international law.
UOSSM, founded in France in 2012, is an international coalition of organisations aimed at supporting medics in Syria. They treat all wounded irrespective of political or religious allegiance.
Rose Troup Buchanan is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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