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Another MSF hospital hit by errant airstrike in Syria, organization says

The strike follows similar incidents at other MSF-supported facilities in Afghanistan and Yemen.

By
Doug G. Ware
A hospital supported by humanitarian medical organization Médecins Sans Frontières in southern Syria was heavily damaged in an airstrike on Feb. 5, the group said Tuesday. Three people were killed and six were wounded in the strike, including a nurse. Photo courtesy Médecins Sans Frontières
A hospital supported by humanitarian medical organization Médecins Sans Frontières in southern Syria was heavily damaged in an airstrike on Feb. 5, the group said Tuesday. Three people were killed and six were wounded in the strike, including a nurse. Photo courtesy Médecins Sans Frontières

DARA'A GOVERNORATE, Syria, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- An airstrike targeted a hospital supported by Médecins Sans Frontières in southern Syria last week, killing three people and wounding several others, the humanitarian organization said Tuesday.

MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders, said in a news release Tuesday that the hospital, located in Dara'a Governorate, near the Jordanian border, was attacked on Friday night.

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"It damaged part of the hospital building itself and incapacitated its heavily used ambulance service," the organization said in the release. "In fear for their lives, more than 20,000 people from the town of Tafas fled to the surrounding countryside."

Six people were injured in the strike on the Tafas field hospital, MSF said, including a nurse.

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"I was on my way to the hospital to help admit people who had been injured by the airstrikes," one staff member said. "But as soon as I reached the hospital, I myself got injured. It all happened very quickly. I saw what looked like an explosion and then a flash of light, and then I lost consciousness for five minutes. My colleagues saw me lying on the ground, bleeding, and rushed me inside. I was injured in both my arm and leg by shrapnel."

It wasn't immediately reported or speculated who was responsible for the airstrike.

In October, an MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, was destroyed by a U.S. airstrike that killed 42 people, including patients and medical staff. President Barack Obama apologized for the errant strike but MSF has called for an independent international investigation.

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Last month, officials overseeing the rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan said U.S. officials had inaccurate coordinates for numerous medical facilities, which may have contributed to the error.

Sources said in November that the strike was the result of technical and human error, and military officials said those responsible for the bombing mistook the clinic for a Taliban compound.

Other MSF-supported facilities elsewhere in Syria and in Yemen were also targeted in November and January.

Last month, MSF-UK director Vickie Hawkins wrote an op-ed titled, "Bombing Hospitals and Schools Cannot Become the New Normal."

"This cannot become an acceptable trend to which the world resigns itself. Please join us in our indignation and ask your leaders to stop bombing hospitals," she wrote. "The protection of civilians should be a high priority, not just to avoid legal prosecution, but because no one should be indifferent to the loss of human life."

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