BEIRUT (AP) — An airstrike on a hospital in an opposition-controlled town in southern Syria put the facility out of service Sunday, while a senior U.N. official met with the Syrian foreign minister in the capital, Damascus, to push for the resumption of peace talks between the government and the opposition in late August.
The hospital in Jasem was targeted in one of several airstrikes to hit the town in Deraa province, located some 35 miles (57 kilometers) south of Damascus, according to the Local Coordination Committees activist network. The group said six people were killed in the strikes, blaming them on the government.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said the hospital strike killed a pharmacist and put the facility out of service.
Hospitals are regularly targeted in Syria’s war, drawing condemnation from the U.N. and the international community. The New York-based Physicians for Human Rights says over 90 percent of attacks on medical facilities in Syria have been carried out by pro-government forces.
In Damascus, Ramzy Ramzy, the U.N.’s deputy special envoy for Syria, reiterated the United Nations’ intent to resume talks between the government and the opposition in late August, saying he discussed a political transition process with Foreign Minister Walid Moallem. The opposition has demanded that President Bashar Assad step down, after the harsh government crackdown on protests in 2011 sparked a catastrophic civil war.
Whether the opposition and the international community will agree to have Assad rule during a transition period or beyond is a key sticking point in negotiations.
“The minister confirmed the intention of the Syrian government to participate in these talks once they are held,” said Ramzi.
Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura was simultaneously meeting with the Iranian deputy foreign minister in Tehran, a close ally to the Damascus government.
Over a quarter million people have been killed in Syria’s war.