19:58 GMT +316 December 2017
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    State Department Spokesman John Kirby speaks during the daily briefing at the State Department on January 6, 2015 in Washington, DC

    Data on Syria Leading to Kirby Offending RT Reporter Obtained From US-Based NPO

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    The information that the US State Department received on the alleged bombing of several hospitals in Syria, which the department’s spokesperson John Kirby then blamed on Russia, came from the Turkish office of the Washington-based non-profit organization Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS).

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – On Wednesday, Kirby accused Russia and Damascus of bombing hospitals in Syria, prompting a question from an RT reporter regarding the details of these alleged attacks. Kirby, in turn, said that he was not going to put RT "on the same level" with other reporters present, which "are representing independent media outlets."

    On Thursday, the State Department gave RT information on the alleged strikes targeting five hospitals and one mobile clinic in Syria.

    SAMS Turkey Advocacy Manager Mohamad Katoub confirmed to Sputnik that the information on the alleged strikes given to RT by the US State Department came from their volunteers working in Syria. Katoub stressed that the center has no official information on who actually destroyed the hospitals.

    Damage Confirmed, Circumstances Unclear

    The data that the US State Department gave to RT was signed "Health Cluster Turkey Hub." World Health Organization (WHO) spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told RIA Novosti that the hub works under the patronage of the WHO and coordinates trans-border healthcare-related operations with the participation of 40 other partner structures.

    Jasarevic advised to contact SAMS Turkey Advocacy Manager Mohamad Katoub for further details.

    Katoub told Sputnik that the SAMS nonprofit was told by its medical personnel that the hospitals mentioned by the US State Department were destroyed by airstrikes, but Russia’s involvement in the strikes is only an assumption "based on witness reports."

    The WHO has also been unable to identify the party responsible for the airstrikes, although it did confirm the existence of the hospitals under question. Jasarevic told RIA Novosti that the WHO has direct contact with five of the hospitals and employees at the medical facilities have confirmed that destruction did take place.

    However, the WHO refused to release the exact location of the hospitals and did not provide any photo or video material confirming that the facilities had come under airstrikes.

    A regional office of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Damascus confirmed to Sputnik that two hospitals west of Aleppo came under fire on November 14, however they were unable to confirm that the destruction of the facilities was caused by airstrikes.

    'Information Blooper'

    Russia's Defense Ministry on Friday dismissed US Department of State spokesman John Kirby's statements on alleged bombings of the hospitals in Syria by Russian and Syrian aircraft. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said it was an "information blooper."

    He added that US and international organizations say they have no data on the location of medical aid posts in Syria's regions controlled by militants.

    "We have repeatedly asked representatives of the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, other countries and international organizations to provide any information on the location of medical aid posts ['hospitals'] or schools in Syrian areas controlled by terrorists," Konashenkov said. "The answer is always the same — no one has such information," he said.

    The territories mentioned in the information report provided to RT by the US State Department are currently under the control of the Jabhat Fatah al Sham (Jabhat al-Nusra, or al-Nusra Front) radical group, outlawed in Russia.

    Three of the five mentioned hospitals are located in Syria’s Aleppo province where the Russian aircraft have not been conducting any airstrikes for the past month, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

    Russia Calls for Responsibility

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after bilateral talks with US State Secretary John Kerry in Lima, Peru on Thursday that spokesman Kirby must be disciplined by the US State Department for the discriminative treatment of the RT journalist.

    "We believe it is unacceptable, not reflecting the American proclaimed values and I hope that this was not the position of the State Department and this is certainly not the position of the Secretary of State, I can assure you," Lavrov stressed.

    However, the issue was not brought up during the Lavrov-Kerry talks held on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders week in Lima.

    Russia has repeatedly stressed that all intelligence data used to conduct airstrikes against terrorists in Syria is thoroughly verified prior to sending out aircraft. All accusations against Russia saying that its airstrikes in Syria have allegedly hurt civilians have not been supported with any factual evidence.

    Numerous armed groups, including terrorists such as Daesh and Jabhat Fatah al Sham (Jabhat al-Nusra, or al-Nusra Front), as well as opposition factions, have been fighting in the Syrian civil war against forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad. Both Russia and the United States (the latter as part of a US-led international coalition) have launched airstrikes against terrorists in Syria.

    The internal conflict in Syria has lasted for about five years. A September ceasefire, negotiated by Russia, which supports Assad, and the United States, which supports the so-called moderate opposition in Syria, has failed to hold.

    According to Lavrov, a major stumbling block in the resolution of the Syrian crisis is US reluctance to differentiate between opposition groups and terrorists, particularly al-Nusra Front members.

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    Tags:
    The Syrian war, World Health Organization (WHO), Syrian American Medical Society, U.S. Department of State, John Kirby, Syria, United States
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