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Hospital Destroyed In Deadly Aleppo Airstrike, Doctors Without Borders Says

A Wednesday night airstrike at a hospital in Aleppo, Syria, killed more than a dozen people.
Beha el Halebi/Anadolu Agency
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A Wednesday night airstrike at a hospital in Aleppo, Syria, killed more than a dozen people.

Airstrikes in Syria's largest city killed more than a dozen people at a well-known hospital, says aid group Doctors Without Borders, adding that the violence claimed one of the last pediatricians working in Aleppo.

"We are outraged at the destruction of Al Quds hospital," the group said in a tweet Thursday, saying that the facility included an intensive care unit and an emergency room.

A friend of the pediatrician who died told NPR's Alice Fordham via Skype that Mohammed Wassim Moaz was "very kind" and that the children in Aleppo "love him very much."

"He used to have a smile on his face always; he always used to joke with his patients," said the friend, also a pediatrician, who goes by the nickname Hatem Abu Yazan for security.

At least three doctors who worked at the hospital are among the 14 bodies that have been recovered, according to Doctors Without Borders, which says the death toll is expected to rise.

"Opposition activists blame the government and say the hospital's location was well-known," NPR's Peter Kenyon reports. The U.S. State Department, while not directly blaming the government, said Thursday that the attack is similar to strikes conducted by the Assad regime in the past. The statement describes the hospital as being supported by both Doctors Without Borders and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Syrian government and Russia have denied involvement in the attack on the hospital.

Peter notes, "The fatalities come as the U.N. envoy for the Syrian talks urges all sides to renew efforts to implement a cease-fire that he describes as barely alive."

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That envoy, Staffan de Mistura, tells NPR's Morning Edition that the new violence raises the risk that opposing sides in Syria's conflict will return to the "horrible habit" of war.

De Mistura says the cease-fire is holding in some regions of Syria but, he adds, "One Syrian is killed every 25 minutes. And one Syrian is wounded every 13 minutes. So we are very concerned."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.