By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - Ten UN Security Council envoys called on Secretary General Antonio Guterres Tuesday to investigate Syrian regime and Russian airstrikes on hospitals in northwestern Syria's Idlib province.
In a letter to the UN chief, the ambassadors of the U.S., U.K., France, Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Indonesia, Kuwait, Peru and Poland called on Guterres to specifically look into attacks on medical facilities and possible abuse of the UN's deconfliction channel.
Russia, China and the council's non-permanent African countries did not join in the appeal.
Human Rights Watch also supported the call, saying it is imperative Guterres launch the probe.
"The UN has provided Russia, Syria and other parties to the conflict with coordinates of hospitals in Idlib to ensure their safety. Yet time and again, those life-saving facilities have been bombed," Louis Charbonneau, the rights organization’s UN director, said in a statement.
"If the Russian-Syrian alliance has used those coordinates to target hospitals, that would be a war crime, and those responsible should be held accountable for their gruesome actions,” he added.
Mark Lowcock, the UN's humanitarian affairs coordinator, earlier Tuesday told the Security Council that the regime's more than three-month offensive has left at least 17 villages in southern Idlib not only decimated but "emptied" as well.
"What you see is a level of destruction consistent with a bombing campaign aimed at a scorched earth policy," he said.
At least 450 civilians have been killed since the regime offensive began in April, according to the UN. That includes over 100 in the past two weeks.
Turkey and Russia agreed last September to turn Idlib into a de-escalation zone where acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have consistently broken the terms of the cease-fire, launching frequent attacks inside the zone.
The area is currently inhabited by about 4 million civilians, including hundreds of thousands of people displaced by regime and allied forces from their cities and towns throughout the war-weary country.