Several explosions hit the region of Idlib near the Turkish border on Sunday evening, resulting in a fire breaking out at a CARE-supported warehouse containing humanitarian supplies.
The blaze destroyed relief items for nearly 25,000 people in dire need of humanitarian assistance in northwest Syria.
Guards working for CARE’s partner organisation, Shafak, were able to extinguish the fire after a first explosion hit the warehouse, which contains aid packages for newly displaced families and hygiene items.
But a second explosion in a truck parking area sparked a new, even larger fire which led to thousands of relief supplies being burnt and destroyed.
Earlier in the morning, three artillery attacks targeted Al-Atareb Surgical Hospital in western Aleppo, a major hospital in northwest Syria that provides health services to the local community.
CARE said the hospital, which is supported by the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) Foundation, was damaged extensively and forced to shut, while six people died, including one child.
According to Reuters, rebel sources and witnesses said 14 medics were also injured in the attack.
Russian jets also hit a gas facility and cement factory in the region.
The affected area in northern Idlib has been used as a route to transport humanitarian supplies and is generally considered safe, with no attacks having occurred in the last six years.
The attacks have led to loss of critical supplies by humanitarian organisations and the suspension of aid deliveries, cutting off lifelines to tens of thousands of people in dire need.
CARE’s Syrian partner organisation, Shafak, has been working to help extinguish the fires and transport the aid packages to a new and safe location.
New fires were reported in the area on Monday, due to the bombing of a petrol station, resulting in further damage to civilian infrastructure.
CARE has strongly condemned the attacks, with Sherine Ibrahim, country director of CARE in Turkey, describing them as “egregious violations of international humanitarian law”.
She added: “Yesterday, we witnessed the destruction of life-saving aid supplies for the people of Northwest Syria.
“After a brutal morning attack against a hospital, in which six Syrians lost their lives, the violence continued into the evening, with artillery shelling of buildings and warehouses in Northern Idlib, just a few kilometres from the Turkish border.
“These indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure are egregious violations of international humanitarian law.
“Humanitarian actors like CARE call on all parties to the conflict to protect vulnerable civilians, who have endured a decade-long conflict and have nowhere to flee.”
The airstrikes have also angered Turkey, prompting the country to put its troops on high alert and send a statement to Russia asking for the attacks to stop immediately.
United Nations (UN) secretary-general Antonio Guterres has also condemned the attacks and called for a nationwide ceasefire.
The area along the border with Turkey in rebel-held north-western Syria had been considered one of the safest spots in the conflict-stricken region, and had attracted aid groups who located their offices and warehouses there.
Turkey and Russia support rival parties in Syria’s 10-year conflict. The countries reached a cease-fire deal in March 2020 that stopped a Russian-backed government offensive on Idlib, in the last major rebel stronghold in war-torn Syria.
Additional reporting by agencies