Moscow slams West for staying silent on Russian hospital bombing

The Russian Foreign Ministry has criticized western leaders after none appeared to condemn the shelling of a mobile Russian hospital by militants in Syria. Two Russian medics were killed after around a dozen of shells hit the facility in Aleppo.

“On December 5, a Russian military medic died as a mortar shell fired by militants directly hit the reception ward of a Russian mobile military hospital set up in Aleppo. Two medical specialists were also severely injured and one of them later died,” the ministry said.

“However, no words of condemnation can be heard from western capitals,” it added, criticizing western governments for their “politicized approach” to the assessment of the situation in Syria.

“We call on our partners to abandon the politicized approach and finally join the counter-terrorist efforts in Syria as well as the search for a political solution to the Syrian crisis” instead of waging a smear campaign in the media, the ministry said in its statement.

It then went on to criticize Paris and London, saying they are waging a “propaganda campaign” – in particular over the delivery of humanitarian aid.

“Our ‘concerned’ French and British colleagues cannot but know that such aid is already rendered to the Aleppo residents … by the Russian side through the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria and the Russian Emergencies Ministry,” the foreign ministry said.

It also slammed western governments for their repeated calls to stop the government operation in Eastern Aleppo, which “increasingly resembles the last desperate attempt to shield and save the terrorists and extremists supervised by [the West], who are on the losing side in the Aleppo [battle].”

The ministry said again that armed groups that the West attempts to support “use civilians as human shields, [and] shell and mine civilian infrastructure and humanitarian corridors.”

About 11 shells landed on the territory of the Russian hospital leading to its total destruction, Vladimir Savchenko, the head of the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria told journalists earlier on Monday.

The Russian Defense Ministry urged for the international community to condemn the attack and said that the incident would be investigated and all responsible would be held to account.

The ministry also said that it attributes blame for the hospital shelling to “terrorists and their patrons in the US, the UK and France.”

“It is beyond doubt that the shelling was conducted by the ‘opposition’ militants. Moscow understands who gave the Syrian militants the coordinates of the Russian hospital right at the moment when it started working,” the Defense Ministry’s spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov said.

The US State Department, which is usually quick to comment on reports of attacks on medical facilities in Syria, found it difficult to confirm and therefore specifically condemn the shelling of the Russian hospital.

“I’ve seen the reports we’ve not been able to confirm; it’s difficult to do obviously, given the fighting and given our lack of access to what’s happening on the ground,” spokesperson Mark Toner told RT’s Gayane Chichakyan. “But to answer your question – of course we condemn any attack on a hospital or healthcare facility.”

RT has requested comment on the shelling of the Russian hospital from the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as the Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, and Amnesty International. 

In response to a request from RT, Amnesty International said it is trying to check whether it is “able to comment on this.”

“But usually if we have not documented and been able to verify details for ourselves it can be tricky for us to provide a comment on specific attacks,” the emailed response reads.

“Repeated attacks on healthcare and other civilian infrastructure throughout Aleppo” indicated that “all sides to the conflict in Syria are failing in their duties to respect and protect healthcare workers, patients and hospitals, and to distinguish between them and military objectives,” the Red Cross told RT in a comment following the shelling of the hospital.

“Healthcare infrastructure, medical personnel and the sick and wounded are protected under international humanitarian law (IHL). They must not be attacked,” the Red Cross stressed, adding that “when hospitals come under fire, countless numbers of people are deprived of life-saving healthcare.”