Airstrikes hit a hospital in northwestern rural Hama last week, killing two people, with evidence chemical weapons were used, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Friday.
MSF said a bomb dropped from a helicopter hit the entrance of a hospital supported by the medical aid group in the rebel-held town of Latamnah in Hama province on Saturday.
“Information collected by the hospital medical staff suggests that chemical weapons were used,” MSF said in a statement.
“Immediately after the impact, patients and staff reported suffering severe respiratory symptoms and burning of mucous membranes – symptoms consistent with an attack using chemicals.”
The health authority of opposition-held parts of Hama blamed the attack on the Assad regime.
The medical charity said the strike knocked the hospital out of service for three days, after which the emergency room reopened.
Abdallah Darwish, head of the health authority for rebel-held areas of Hama province, said earlier the strikes on Thursday caused symptoms such as “irritation, heavy foaming from the mouth and constricting pupils,” citing his medical staff on the ground.
A commander in the Jaish Alezza FSA group said that regime forces used chlorine as well as sarin and VX nerve agents in attacks on rebel-held areas on Thursday.
The Assad regime is employing a scorched earth policy to reverse the gains the FSA and rebel fighters have made recently in northern and northwestern rural Hama, the commander added.
The chemical attacks on rebel-held positions were followed by a large-scale ground attack by regime forces and foreign militias, most notably the Iraqi Alnujabaa’ militias, the Hezbollah militias, and militants from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps stationed in the 47th Brigade south of Hama.
Two people died as a result of the attack on the hospital in Latamnah, including Dr Ali Darwish, the hospital’s orthopedic surgeon. Thirteen people were moved to other facilities for treatment.
“The loss of Dr Darwish leaves just two orthopedic surgeons for a population of around 120,000,” said Massimiliano Rebaudengo, MSF’s head of mission in northern Syria.
Latamnah hospital is located a few kilometers from the frontline between regime and opposition forces, and provides medical care for a population of around 8,000. Prior to the attacks, the hospital had an emergency room and inpatient department, and provided general and orthopedic surgery. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Agencies)