Syria: Truce hopes in shambles as Russia accused of war crimes after hospital bombing
People gather near what is said to be a hospital damaged by missile attacks in Azaz, Aleppo, Syria, February 15, 2016 in this still image taken from a video on a social media website. Seven Russian missiles struck a hospital in the northern Syrian town of Azaz on Monday, a Turkish security official said,
 

The Syrian conflict took a turn for the worse and hopes of a truce were dashed with the suspected Russian airstrikes on a hospital killing almost 50 people, prompting France and Turkey to term the attacks an act of war crime.

The United Nations said the air strikes on medical facilities and schools in Syria killed almost 50 civilians. Unicef, the UN's children's agency, said four medical facilities in the town of Azaz and Idlib were hit.

The US and the UN, which condemned the attacks, did not specifically blame Russia. The aerial attacks were carried out by forces supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkey blamed Russia for the attacks, which came days after President Obama asked Moscow to halt its bombing campaign in Syria. Russia has not yet responded to Turkey's allegation.

However, Syria's ambassador to Moscow Riad Haddad said the US was behind the hospital attacks.

"American warplanes destroyed it. Russian warplanes had nothing to do with any of it -- the information that has been gathered will completely back that up," he said, AFP reported.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davuto─člu squarely blamed Moscow, saying a Russian ballistic missile had hit one of the hospitals. Turkey's foreign ministry said the strikes meant Russia was carrying out an "obvious war crime".

Reuters reported that Medicine Sans Frontiers officials said either Russia or Syrian government forces were responsible for the attack on the hospital in Idlib, where seven people were killed.

According to Syrian opposition activists, a missile struck a children's hospital in the rebel-held town of Azaz, where 10 people were killed.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had denied his county was targeting civilians, a claim the Syrian opposition groups refuse to believe.

"They are targeting hospitals specifically; this is systematic," Zaidoun al-Zoabi, the head of the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organisations, told the Guardian.

"Who bombed the hospitals? For God's sake, who bombed the hospitals today?"

'Halting the terrorists'

Meanwhile, President Assad, whose position has been shored by the relentless Russian air strikes, said even a truce doesn't mean the stoppage of the use of weapons.

The purpose of the cessation of the hostilities agreement reached in Munich last was in principle to stop "terrorists from strengthening their positions", Assad said in a televised address.

"Regarding a ceasefire, a halt to operations, if it happened, it doesn't mean that each party will stop using weapons."

"A ceasefire means in the first place halting the terrorists from strengthening their positions. Movement of weapons, equipment or terrorists, or fortification of positions, will not be allowed," Assad added.