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27 killed in airstrike on Syrian hospital, rights group says

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An airstrike that hit a hospital in Syria killed 27 people, including children and one of the last few pediatricians in Aleppo, rights groups said.

Al Quds field hospital was hit by a missile from a fighter jet Wednesday, witnesses said. It’s unclear whom the fighter jet belonged to.

Fatalities in the attack included three children and three doctors, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The hospital was supported by Doctors Without Borders, which uses its French acronym, Médecins Sans Frontières. The hospital was “well known locally,” the charity group said. It’s not clear what type of support the facility received from MSF. The group condemned the attack.

Intense fighting

In recent months, northern Syria has been the scene of intense fighting, with government forces backed by Russian air power pursuing a major offensive on Aleppo.

In February, CNN visited Aleppo and found a city under siege. Shelling pounded the key battleground daily, an unrelenting and terrifying reminder of the nation’s five-year civil war.

The same month, President Bashar al-Assad’s regime had cut off access to the main road from Aleppo to the Turkish border, hampering movement of rebels fighting his government and aid agencies trying to bring supplies to the city.

Years of conflict

Syria’s conflict started in 2011 and has raged on for years, with more than 250,000 killed, according to the United Nations.

It started as an anti-government protest as Syrians nationwide demanded reform and the release of political protesters.

Government forces fired on the protesters, killing scores. As the government crackdown intensified, the opposition got more organized.

‘Hangs by a thread’

At least 148 civilians have died in Aleppo in the past six days, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Syria has barely been holding onto a fragile cessation of hostilities this year, with experts expressing cautious optimism about its prospects.

The U.N. special envoy to Syria urged the United States and Russia to help revive peace talks.

“In the last 48 hours, we have had an average of one Syrian killed every 25 minutes, one Syrian wounded every 13 minutes,” Staffan de Mistura said Thursday.

He said the truce is barely holding and “hangs by a thread.”