Opposition authorities “indefinitely” closed schools and hospitals in the southern Idlib countryside after a series of reported Russian airstrikes killed up to 50 people on Monday.

The South Idlib Unified Observatory, “responsible for monitoring the movement of warplanes and warning residents of potential airstrikes” closed the facilities after an alleged Russian airstrike Monday against a Doctors Without Borders hospital near south Idlib’s Marat al-Numan Mohamed a-Shamali, a citizen journalist in south Idlib, tells Syria Direct’s Sharin a-Naser and Abdullah al-Hariri.

The Kremlin dismissed allegations that it had intentionally struck civilian targets as “unacceptable,” insinuating that American warplanes had been responsible, reported Russian government-run news agency TASS on Tuesday.

But the “vast majority” of airstrikes currently hitting Idlib province are carried out by Russian planes, a-Shamali says, adding that residents identify them by the “sound and the accuracy of the strikes.”

Q: Who issued the decision to close the schools and hospitals in south Idlib and why?

The decision was issued by the South Idlib Unified Observatory which is responsible for monitoring the movement of warplanes and warning residents of potential airstrikes using radio transmitters.

Given that Russian planes targeted several hospitals and schools yesterday, including the Doctors Without Borders hospital in the town of al-Hamidia south of Marat al-Numan, we decided to close them as a preventative measure.

Q: Can you confirm that the recent strikes in Idlib were carried out by the Russian air force?

The vast majority of the airstrikes that have hit rebel-held areas in Idlib recently have been Russian. We can differentiate between Russian and regime planes by the sound and the accuracy of the strikes. Plus the Russian planes always come in groups of at least three.

Q: Can you explain the impact these closures will have on Idlib residents?

They will create a health crisis for everyone, including both fighters and civilians. Where are the injured supposed to go for treatment? Children? Where will women in labor go to give birth?

And then you have the school closures. If we continue as we are now, an entire generation is going to miss out on an education.

Q: In emergency cases are there alternatives to the hospitals?

There are two “bunker hospitals” in north Hama that have been built under ground. However, these cannot accept all patients. 

Q: How long will the closures be in place?

Indefinitely. The facilities will be reopened when the Russian bombings stop.