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World

Doctor Recounts Airstrikes Against His Hospital In Syria

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Russia's defense ministry is offering statistics on its airstrikes in Syria. In a three-day period, Russia says its plane struck 258 targets. Russia says the targets belong to extremist groups, ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra. Russia denies that its planes struck a hospital. Although, something certainly did strike that hospital according to the Syrian American Medical Society, which runs it. Dr. Mohamed al Tennari was there.

MOHAMED AL TENNARI: We have a damage, big windows on doors. Some equipment also was destroyed. Two person from our staff was killed. And 10 of our civilian was killed also. Twenty-two was injured.

INSKEEP: Dr. Tennari believes this hospital was targeted by Russian aircraft using missiles.

TENNARI: We was targeted before from the Syrian regime. It was different from this time. And this time, we didn't hear the sound of airstrike until after she explode. This means that Syrian don't do like this. So we think it is Russian.

INSKEEP: Now, you heard him say that they had been targeted before by the Syrian regime. In fact, the Syrian American Medical Society says that's happened 18 times that this hospital has been bombed. And Dr. Tennari does not think it's an accident.

TENNARI: The whole area about the hospital is completely destroyed. Nobody is living about us because it is so dangerous. A lot of people are afraid to come to the hospital because the hospital was targeted so many times. And so a lot of people afraid to come to the hospital.

INSKEEP: The hospital has been hit so often, he says, that civilians in that city, Idlib, are now reluctant to go there for treatment. Why the Syrians and Russians would purposefully hit the facility, he is not sure except, he says, the hospital has a policy to treat everyone.

TENNARI: We treat everybody coming to us, not only people who are against regime. We treat any patient coming to us. A lot of our patient just a civilian - children and woman - not just people who are against regime.

INSKEEP: Now, in this latest attack, the hospital was hit twice in a row, two attacks 10 minutes apart.

TENNARI: There was a lot of people, maybe about 200 patients in the hospital at that time. And we didn't know what to do, to tell people to go out to their house or to stay in the hospital, because airstrikes still in the sky. And we didn't know if she will attack again. She attack again, and a lot of people was killed.

INSKEEP: That's Dr. Mohamed al Tennari, director of a hospital in Idlib, Syria. By the way, the question of whether Russia is targeting ISIS, Dr. Tennari says he's seen no sign of ISIS in the area for more than a year and a half. The Syrian American Medical Society has called upon Russia to end what the society calls the targeting of hospitals and civilians. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.