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A number of people have been killed after airstrikes hit three hospitals in northern Syria, doctors and witnesses say.

According to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), seven people died in an attack in Maarat al-Numan. Activists said another hospital in the town was also hit.

Another strike in Azaz near the Turkish border killed 10, reports said.

MSF blamed pro-Syrian government forces for the raid in on its hospital; Turkey blamed Russia for the Azaz strike.

They come days after Russia and other world powers agreed to a limited cessation of hostilities in Syria.

Almost five years of civil war in Syria have led to the deaths of more than 250,000 people. More than 11 million people have been displaced.

It has not been confirmed who carried out the latest attacks.Syrian hospital airstrike

However, Mego Terzian, president of MSF France, said the Maarat al-Numan strikes were carried out by forces “loyal to President Bashar al-Assad”.

Mego Terzian told Reuters: “There were at least seven deaths among the personnel and the patients, and at least eight MSF personnel have disappeared, and we don’t know if they are alive.”

Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu said a Russian ballistic missile had hit buildings in Azaz, with children among the dead.

Associated Press reported that five people had died at a children’s hospital.

One doctor, Juma Rahal, told the Reuters news agency: “We have been moving scores of screaming children from the hospital.”

Several more people were killed in an air raid on a nearby village, AP reported.

Russia has been carrying out air strikes in Syria since September in support of President Assad and against what it terms “terrorists”.

Azaz has seen an influx of thousands of people fleeing advances by the Russian-backed Syrian army in Aleppo province.

The Kurdish YPG militia, which has been making advances in the area, has also targeted Azaz.

Turkey has shelled Kurdish positions since the weekend and on February 15 promised the “harshest reaction” if the forces tried to take Azaz.

Turkey views the YPG militia in Syria as allied to the outlawed PKK, which has carried out a decades-long campaign for Kurdish autonomy within Turkey.

Syria said the Turkish shelling was a violation of its sovereignty and has called on the UN Security Council to act.

MSF said four rockets had hit the hospital in Maarat al-Numan, a rebel-held town about 20 miles south of the city of Idlib, within minutes of each other on February 15.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group which relies on a network of sources on the ground, said nine people were killed, including a child. The raid also left dozens of others wounded, it added.

MSF’s head of mission in Syria, Massimiliano Rebaudengo, said the strikes appeared to be a “deliberate attack on a health structure”, warning the attack left tens of thousands without medical care.

Another hospital in Maarat al-Numan was also hit, opposition group the Local Co-ordination Committees said, killing three people.

The US army has launched an airstrike against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq.

The Pentagon said American aircraft attacked artillery that was being used against Kurdish forces defending the northern city of Irbil.

President Barack Obama authorized air strikes on Thursday, but said he would not send US troops back to Iraq.

The US army has launched an airstrike against IS militants in Iraq

The US army has launched an airstrike against IS militants in Iraq (photo Reuters)

The Sunni Muslim group IS, formerly known as Isis, now has control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria.

In June, IS took control of the city of Mosul. Earlier this week, its fighters seized Qaraqosh, Iraq’s biggest Christian town.

The advance of IS also forced tens of thousands of people from the Yazidi community – another minority group in northern Iraq – to leave their homes and seek shelter on a nearby mountain.

According to the Pentagon statement, two F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on mobile artillery near Irbil.

Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said IS had been using the artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending Irbil, where US personnel are based.

The air strike is the first time the US has been directly involved in a military operation in Iraq since American troops withdrew in late 2011.

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