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13 Killed in Syria Hospital Attack     06/13 09:26


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

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

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

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

   The Syrian American Medical Society, or SAMS, an aid group that assists 
health centers in opposition areas, said al-Shifaa Hospital in the town of 
Afrin was targeted by two missiles. The attack destroyed the polyclinic 
department, the emergency and the 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 staff were 
injured. The hospital has been put 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 
each month, including surgeries and maternity wards. The coordinates for the 
hospital, which is financed by USAID as well as UN funds, were shared as part 
of the U.N.-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 were in control 
of Afrin terrorists. Since then, there has been a series of attacks on Turkish 
targets in the area.

   The governor's office of Turkey's Hatay province blamed the attack on the 
Kurdish group.

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

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