ISTAMBUL: Doctors in the shattered suburbs of eastern Aleppo appealed for help last night after Syrian government warplanes destroyed the area's last children's hospital.
Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad pummelled Aleppo's rebel-held sector for a sixth day yesterday (Thursday), bringing the number of attacks to more than 100 in just 24 hours. On Wednesday, the bombing forced three hospitals, including a facility for sick and injured children, out of service, prompting the frantic evacuation of newborn babies to safety in a basement.
"We are used to these warplanes, we are used to these bombs, but please: stop this war," said the hospital director, Dr Hatem. "We are watching as newborn babies are bombed in their incubators. How can these children have a life after this?"
Photographs from the hospital showed infants lying prone on a bed as bombs fell outside.
Syria's brutal conflict has killed almost half a million people and seen hospitals destroyed across the country.
Peter Salama, Unicef's regional director for the Middle East, said the attacks should "shake the moral compass of the world". Control of Aleppo has been roughly divided since 2012 between Mr Assad's regime in the west and armed groups which oppose it in the east.
The Independent Doctors Association, which funds the children's hospital, said there were now only 18 incubators in the whole of rebel-held Aleppo.
With frontlines largely stagnant across much of Syria, the battle for Aleppo province has become one of the most important. Rebel forces opposing Mr Assad's regime must cling onto territory in and around Aleppo city if they are to remain a viable fighting force.
Further north along the Turkish border, US-backed forces were poised last night to push Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) militants from Manbij, the city dubbed "Little London".