By Burak Karacaoglu and Esref Musa
IDLIB, Syria (AA) - Russian fighter jets early Monday targeted a civilian hospital in the Kafr Nabl district of Syria’s northwestern Idlib province, Firas Jundi, health minister in Syria’s pro-opposition government, told Anadolu Agency.
"The Russian airstrikes failed to cause casualties, but the hospital was knocked out of service," he said.
Abu Bahar, an opposition commander manning an airborne observatory set up in the region by anti-regime forces, said that two Russian Su-35 fighters had taken off from the Khmeimim Airbase before targeting Kafr Nabl’s Orient Hospital.
Noting that the hospital was not struck during a first sortie, Abu Bahar recounted: “I quickly realized the pilot was getting fresh coordinates. Shortly afterward, the hospital was subject to two more strikes, both of which hit the hospital.”
Including the latest bombardments, Russia and the Assad regime have targeted hospitals in Idlib -- all of which have been rendered completely inoperable -- four times this week alone.
Notably, Idlib, which is located near the Turkish border, falls within a network of de-escalation zones -- endorsed by Turkey, Russia and Iran -- in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
Nevertheless, for the past two months, the Idlib de-escalation zone has been the target of particularly fierce airstrikes by Russia and Assad regime forces.
Last month, 211 civilians were killed in Idlib -- which remains largely controlled by armed anti-regime groups -- while another 1,447 were injured.
Such actions on the part of Russia and the Assad regime constitute blatant violations of a ceasefire agreement endorsed by Ankara, Moscow and Tehran during earlier peace talks held in Kazakh capital Astana.
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with disproportionate force and unexpected ferocity.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, while millions more have been displaced, according to statements by UN officials.