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Hospital workers rush to evacuate infants in Aleppo

Sarah el Deeb
Associated Press

Beirut — Doctors and nurses at a pediatric hospital in eastern Aleppo scrambled Friday to evacuate babies in incubators to safety from underground shelters after the facility in the besieged Syrian city was bombed for the second time this week.

Medics and aid workers also reported a suspected attack involving toxic gas in a district on the western edge of the rebel-held area. At least 12 people, including children, were treated for breathing difficulties, said Adham Sahloul of the Syrian American Medical Society, which supports health facilities in Aleppo.

Claims of toxic gas attacks are common in Syria, and reports by international inspectors have held the government responsible for using chemicals in attacks on civilians, which Damascus denies.

Airstrikes also hit a village in rural areas Aleppo province, killing seven members of a family, including four children, opposition activists said.

Friday was the fourth day of renewed assaults by Syrian warplanes on eastern Aleppo districts, a rebel-held enclave of 275,000 people. The onslaught began Tuesday, when Syria’s ally Russia announced its own offensive on the northern rebel-controlled Idlib province and Homs province in central Syria.

Since then, more than 100 people have been killed across northern Syria.

Friday’s airstrikes in Aleppo hit a complex of four hospitals that had been attacked two days earlier. The latest strikes forced the pediatric hospital and a neighboring facility to stop operating.

“Now it is being bombed. … I am sorry. … I have to go to transfer the children,” the head of the pediatric hospital wrote in a text message to the Associated Press.

The incubators already had been moved underground for safety, but with bombs falling all around the facility, hospital workers had to rush them to a safer place despite the danger.