Russia says reports of Syria hospital strike ‘fake’

Moscow: Moscow today denied reports of a Russian strike on a clinic in Syria as “fake”, attacking the Britain-based monitoring group behind the reports as no more reliable than a “pizzeria”.

“I want to deny all of this information,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said yetsterday that 13 people including medical staff were killed in Russian air strikes Tuesday against a field hospital in the northwestern province of Idlib that was run by the Syrian-American Medical Society.

A staffer at the clinic confirmed to AFP that the facility was hit and that at least two employees were killed, but did not specify whether the strike was conducted by Russian planes.

Zakharova dismissed the widely circulated reports and dismissed the Observatory as lacking credibility.

“These fakes are often published citing the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,” Zakharova said in a briefing in Moscow.

“It’s very convenient to report on what is going on in Syria from London without going on the ground,” she said.

In a tirade against Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman, she said the group was set up by a British national whom she described as “the owner of a fast food joint” with “neither a journalism degree nor a legal education… Not even a secondary education”.

“One might as well cite a waiter in a pizzeria,” she said, adding that Russia would “continue to examine these fakes with close scrutiny.”

Russia launched an air campaign in Syria on September 30. The West has criticised Moscow for focusing on moderate groups that oppose President Bashar al-Assad rather than on the jihadist Islamic State group.