DAMASCUS, Syria, May 24 (UPI) -- The World Health Organization has condemned the Islamic State bombing of a hospital in Syria that killed more than 40 people.
The facility in the city of Jableh near the Mediterranean coast was heavily damaged, forcing officials to transfer patients to other hospitals. The WHO said the IS suicide bombing was a violation of international humanitarian law, noting that at least 17 health facilities in Syria have been attacked in 2016.
"It is unacceptable that such attacks on health are increasing in both frequency and scale," WHO said in a statement.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombings, saying it targeted "gatherings of Alawites," in reference to the Shiite sect to which Assad belongs. The Sunni Islamic State considers Shiites to be heretics and has targeted them in its bombing campaign across Iraq and Syria.
The WHO estimates that 60 percent of public hospitals have closed or remain only partly functional in Syria.
At least 101 people were killed on Monday in bombings targeting strongholds of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad along the war-torn country's Mediterranean coast. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates nearly 150 people were killed by at least five suicide bombers and two bombs planted in cars in the cities of Jableh and Tartous.
Russia, an ally of Assad, has a base in Tartus -- its only military installation along the Mediterranean Sea, from which it launches airstrikes and gives aid to the Syrian regime.
Syria has been blighted by a complex civil war in which the Islamic State, the Syrian government and multiple Syrian rebel groups fight for control of territory. The United Nations estimates up to 400,000 people may have died in the conflict so far.