At least 21 civilians, including nine children and three teachers, were killed when 10 schools and a hospital were hit by “airstrikes and ground attacks” in Idlib province in northwestern Syria on Tuesday, said the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations said in a statement.
Children and women are among more than 80 civilians who have been “severely injured,” said the medical relief group.
Three nurses and a doctor were injured after Idlib Central Hospital was hit by an airstrike that heavily damaged the facility, the organization, which is based in Geneva, it also said.
“The hospital, which served 11,500 patients monthly, was forced to shut down given the safety risks posed by targeted airstrikes,” the group said.
The Syrian government said Tuesday its forces seized several towns and villages in the southern countryside of Idlib province after “army units carried out intensive operations against terrorists,” the country’s state-run news agency SANA reported.
In the past two months, more than 832,000 people have fled the last opposition-held territory in Syria, in the wake of a relentless air campaign and a swift ground offensive by the Syrian regime and its Russian backers, according to the latest UN figures.
Tens of thousands of people are still on the move. Nearly 700,000 of the newly displaced are women and children, the UN said.
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday in his address to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that a ceasefire in Idlib would be akin “capitulation to terrorists.”
“The desire to justify the atrocities of radical and terrorist groups prevails in the position of some of our colleagues, whether voluntarily or involuntarily,” Lavrov said. “It’s difficult to explain otherwise the exhortations about the possibility of reaching ceasefire deals with bandits, as happens when Idlib is discussed.
“This is not a concern about human rights, this is capitulation to terrorists and even a reward for their activities.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, whom Lavrov met Monday to discuss Syria, called for an immediate ceasefire in the Idlib region last week to stop “the man-made humanitarian nightmare” facilitated by Syrian government ground offensives, Russian airstrikes and clashes between Turkish and Syrian forces.
CNN’s Mary Ilyushina in Moscow contributed to this report.