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    Syrians salvage medical items from a hospital following an air strike a rebel-controlled town in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on May 1, 2017

    MSF Stops Operations in Eastern Ghouta After Armed Rebels Attack Hospital

    Middle East
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    Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reports that jihadist groups in Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus in Syria, have attacked a hospital there, causing the organization to stop its aid work because of the security situation.

    The humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has been forced to suspend its operations in Eastern Ghouta, Syria, because of fighting between jihadists there.

    Last week, a group of jihadists burst into a hospital in Hazzeh and terrorized the patients before murdering a paramedic and stealing an ambulance.

    Dr. Said Fliti, one of MSF's coodinators in Syria, told Sputnik France that the attack has made it too difficult for doctors to work in the region, which is under the control of rebels opposed to the Syrian government.

    "Two days in a row, on April 29 and 30, a group of thirty armed, masked men broke into the hospital searching for some specific patients. They hijacked an ambulance and killed one of the auxiliary medical personnel. We strongly condemn this attack," Fliti said.

    MSF said that while they know the perpetrators belong to armed rebels, they aren't such exactly which militia is responsible.

    "At the moment, we can't say which group they belong to because it still isn't clear."

    However, the doctor did confirm that "they were armed groups which belong to the opposition."

    MSF described its decision to suspend operations because of the attacks as a "serious signal to all warring factions."

    "The doctors who are working there and with whom we are in contact, understand our position and the reasons why we took such a decision. We want to protect patients, our workers and medical facilities. They [the doctors] also think that we are sending a serious signal to all sides of the conflict."

    While MSF was unwilling to name those responsible, others familiar with the area said that the jihadists responsible are the same foreign-backed rebels which have been operating in Eastern Ghouta for several years.

    According to Bachar Wammoy, a businessman who organizes aid deliveries to Syria, in recent days the conflict between jihadists in Eastern Ghouta has intensified.

    "For the last five years, this territory has been controlled by terrorist groups … there are two factions operating there, one armed by Turkey, and the other by Saudi Arabia. For the last six days, there has been conflict in this zone," Wammoy told Sputnik.

    "There is no Syrian army in Ghouta, they are outside this zone, and MSF are inside it, where the fighting is. So, one of these terrorist groups is responsible for what happened to MSF."

    "They [MSF] decided to illegally cross the Syrian border and go to areas controlled by Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State [Daesh] and the rest of those organizations. Their names may be different, but they are all the embodiment of the same evil […] They all follow Wahhabi philosophy," Wammoy said.

    On Thursday, Russia, Iran and Turkey, the guarantors of Syria's nationwide ceasefire, signed a memorandum on establishing de-escalation zones in four areas of Syria, including Eastern Ghouta.

    According to the terms of the memorandum, hostilities between conflicting parties in these areas will cease, allowing the delivery of medical aid, humanitarian convoys and the restoration of basic infrastructure.


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    medical aid, rebels, medical equipment, attack, hospital, terrorism, East Ghouta, Syria
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