By Esref Musa and Mehmet Burak Karacaoglu
ALEPPO, Syria (AA) – Russian warplanes struck two hospitals, as well as residential areas, in Syria’s northern Aleppo province, an official said on Monday.
According to Syria Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, airstrikes hit the hospitals in the northern town of Darat Izza near the Turkish border, wounding civilians and forcing the medical facilities to close.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over half of the country’s health facilities have been damaged or destroyed since the start of the civil war in 2011.
Russian aircraft also targeted villages in the northwestern Idlib province, a stronghold of opposition forces in the war-torn country covered by a nominal cease-fire.
Syrian regime forces led by Bashar al-Assad have been trying to capture the Aleppo countryside and parts of neighboring Idlib province.
The advances have sent hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians fleeing towards the border with Turkey, which already hosts more than 3.7 million refugees.
It has also affected cooperation between Ankara and Moscow.
Turkey has sent its troops to Idlib as part of agreements with Russia – the 2017 Astana and 2018 Sochi accords – that sought de-escalation. However, regime forces, its allies and militias loyal to it continue to violate the cease-fire.
So far this month, artillery fire by regime troops has martyred 12 Turkish military personnel and one civilian contractor.
While Ankara and Moscow have begun a new round of talks in the Russian capital, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey's military will drive back Syrian forces if they do not withdraw from Idlib.