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Moscow Says Russian Medics Killed In Aleppo Attack, Blames Rebels And West

Syria's civil war has killed more than 250,000 people (file photo)
Syria's civil war has killed more than 250,000 people (file photo)

The Russian Defense Ministry says two Russian female army medics were killed on December 5 and a third medic was seriously wounded in what it said was the rebel shelling of a field hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

The Russian military blamed Western nations that it said "support" rebels fighting against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.

The ministry's chief spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov, claimed that rebels deliberately directed artillery fire at the mobile field hospital in a government-held district after it began receiving civilians. He said there was a direct hit on the reception area.

Konashenkov said that the United States, Britain, and France and other nations he called "patrons of terrorists" bore responsibility for the deaths, saying that "the blood of our service members" is on their hands.

Konashenkov also did not provide evidence to support the claim that the field hospital was deliberately targeted, or that it was hit by rebel fire.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner dismissed the accusation that Western nations were responsible for the deaths.

"We would never do that, and it's completely false," Toner told reporters in Washington on December 5. "We would never give coordinates to the Syrian opposition."

Konashenkov also called on the international community to condemn what he called the "premeditated murder" of Russian army medics in Aleppo.

The UN and medical charities have repeatedly called on all sides of the Syrian conflict not to target medical facilities.

The deaths of the Russian army medics came as fighting continued to rage in Aleppo on December 5.

Syrian government artillery, tanks, and warplanes hit rebel-held parts of the city. Rebels hit back in the government-held western parts of the city with dozens of mortar shells, killing at least eight people, according to the opposition British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Russia has been flying air raids in Syria since September 2015 and has provided longtime ally Assad's forces with other military support during the more than five-year-old war that has killed at least 250,000 people.

With reporting by AFP, Reuters, TASS, and Interfax
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