Fri, 15 Nov 2019

The United Nations humanitarian coordinator said on June 25 that he had asked Russia to provide details on how it was using the location coordinates of hospitals in Syria following a string of attacks on health-care facilities.

Coordinates of medical facilities are shared via the UN to the warring parties in Syria under a humanitarian deconfliction system with the aim of protecting them from attack.

Despite this mechanism, more than 23 hospitals have been hit by strikes since Russia-backed Syrian forces launched an offensive in the northwestern province of Idlib in late April, according to the UN.

Russia, which has given crucial support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad throughout the conflict, has denied that the bombing campaign has targeted hospitals.

'I have written to the Russian Federation to request information as to how the details provided through the deconfliction mechanism are used,' Mark Lowcock, the UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, told the Security Council.

In remarks via video link, Lowcock said he was 'not sure' the system was fulfilling its role.

David Lillie, the executive director of the Syrian American Medical Society, told the council that doctors no longer trust the humanitarian deconfliction system, and urged an investigation into the attacks.

'They have fulfilled their part of the agreement at great risk to themselves, can this council not meet them halfway?' Lillie said.

The Syrian conflict, now in its ninth year, began with a government crackdown on protesters in March 2011. The war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions.

Idlib is mainly controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate. The region is covered by a deescalation agreement reached last year between Russia, Iran, and Turkey.

Iran also backs Assad in the war, while Turkey supports opposition groups.

With reporting by AFP and dpa

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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