Nearly two dozen people have been killed in an attack by the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group on a hospital in eastern Syria.
Pro-militant sources said Saturday that the attack on al-Assad hospital in the city of Dayr al-Zawr killed 20 people, most of them Syrian soldiers and allied fighters.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack came at the eastern entrance of the hospital and sparked clashes between government forces and Daesh militants. The London-based monitoring group said at least six militants from the Takfiri group were killed. There were no immediate reports about the number of the wounded.
The group claimed militants are now in control of the hospital along with a dormitory and a silo facility. Syrian media said troops have locked the militants inside the hospital with fighting going on.
Local media said the attack on the hospital was part of a larger militant offensive into Dayr al-Zawr which began late Friday.
They said militants were attempting to capture key facilities in the city, adding that a similar attack on the city’s main airport was thwarted by Syrian forces.
The attack on the Assad hospital in Dayr al-Zawr is the latest in a string of militants’ raids on health-care facilities. Daesh, which is controlling parts of land in Syria and neighboring Iraq, has repeatedly used civilian structures like hospitals and schools as a main target of its attacks in Syria. Rights group have documented numerous cases of such bombings and attacks over the past months.
Physicians for Human Rights said in a recent research that militant forces had carried out about a dozen attacks on medical facilities with Daesh being responsible for at least eight of them, noting more than a dozen medical staff have been killed in those attacks.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The United Nations special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which has also displaced over half of the Arab country's pre-war population of about 23 million.