UN: Russia denies bombing Idlib hospitals and calls for US to withdraw from Syria

Russian Permanent Representative to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, denied that the Russian and Syrian militaries were bombing hospitals in Syria, and, along with Syria’s representative, demanded the removal of US troops from the country, during a UN Security Council meeting in New York City, on Friday.

“If only Russia and Syria fly aeroplanes over Idlib, what is happening to the targeting of the hospitals?” said UK representative Karen Elizabeth Pierce. “We need to know if the hospitals are being deliberately targeted.”

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said, “Who is bombing all these hospitals? I can’t say. But at least some of these attacks are clearly organized by people with access to sophisticated weapons including a modern air force and so called smart or precision weapons.”

Russia’s representative Vasily Nebenzya responded saying, “Neither the Syrian army nor the Russian Aerospace Forces conduct military operations against civilians and civilian infrastructure.”

He also called for the US to “end the illegal occupation of part of Syria’s sovereign territory,” a sentiment echoed by Syria’s Bashar Jaafari.

“Idlib is not in Germany, it’s not in Belgium, it’s not in Kuwait. Therefore, it is the Syrian state which is responsible for protecting Idlib and its Syrian inhabitants from terrorism,” he said. “It is the responsibility of the Security Council to help the Syrian state in this respect.”

Meanwhile UN officials expressed worry about the possible humanitarian consequences of the escalating situation in Idlib.

“Humanitarian agencies are trying to help people caught up in the fighting, but the response is already stretched,” Lowcock said. “As we’ve told you before, a full military incursion would overwhelm all ability to respond. We are rapidly approaching that scenario.”

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) recently launched an offensive against militants in the countryside of Hama and Idlib provinces in northern Syria. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 164,000 people are believed to have fled to northern and eastern Idlib Governorate between April 29 and May 9 to escape the fighting.

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