The UN and European Union condemned on Monday the attack on the al Shifaa Hospital in Afrin in northwestern Syria that took place Saturday, killing many civilians, including patients and medical staff.
The EU said “the deadly attack” is a serious breach of International Humanitarian Law, especially since the coordinates of the hospital had been shared by the UN.
Al-Shifaa hospital, including the labor and delivery rooms, was badly damaged as a result of a shelling last Saturday. All hospital services were subsequently suspended, and patients and health care workers were immediately evacuated.
The UN special envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen said: “Such appalling attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including healthcare facilities and workers, are unacceptable and must cease.”
“I also reiterate the Secretary-General’s call for accountability for crimes committed in Syria,” he said.
On Sunday, the governor’s office in Hatay, just across Syria’s border with Turkey, said that grad missile and artillery shells fired by the YPG/PKK from the Assad regime-controlled Tal Rifat region hit the emergency department of the private hospital in the center of the Afrin district, state-run Anadolu Agency said.
It added that on Sunday, Turkey’s military hit targets in the northern Syrian town of Tel Rifat in response to artillery attacks in nearby Afrin.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday the terrorist attack on the hospital reveals again the atrocity of the YPG militia and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the US-backed militia force spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG, has said it was not responsible for the attack.
Before heading to a meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Erdogan said: “We will hold these cowards accountable for every drop of blood they spilled.”
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) condemned the attack on the hospital in Afrin, saying tragedies like this can and should be avoided by warring parties as obligated under International Humanitarian Law.
For its part, the US said this barbaric attack took the lives of children, medical staff, and first responders, adding that civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, must never be the target of military action.
The UK and France also issued statements to convict Saturday’s deadly attack on the hospital.
“We condemn the shocking attack on Al Shifaa Hospital in Afrin. The violence needs to stop – all parties must abide by existing ceasefire agreements,” James Cleverly, the British government’s Minister of State for Middle East and North Africa, said Sunday on Twitter.