BEIRUT — The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local):
A U.N. official has condemned air raids that targeted hospitals in Syrian rebel-held areas this month, saying the facilities were serving hundreds of thousands of people.
Jan Egeland, a top U.N. aid official for Syria, said the U.N. does not know who carried out the air raids in the northwestern Idlib province.
Egeland told reporters in Geneva the air raids in mid-September are “very much associated” with attacks by al-Qaida-linked militants earlier this month on Syrian and Russian troops in the central Hama province bordering Idlib.
He said government and Russian forces, as well as the U.S.-led coalition striking the Islamic State group, need “to do more to avoid indiscriminate attacks against civilian targets.”
Egeland said “the five or more hospitals” that were hit in Idlib were serving 500,000 civilians.
Syrian opposition activists say Islamic State militants have attacked an eastern village recently captured by government forces, threatening to cut the main highway that links the capital, Damascus, with the eastern city of Deir el-Zour.
The attack on al-Shola came three weeks after Syrian troops broke a nearly three-year siege on parts of Deir el-Zour, the capital of the oil and gas-rich province of the same name.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said al-Shola is under attack. Omar Abou Leila, of the monitoring group DeirEzzor 24, and the IS-linked Aamaq news agency said the extremists have captured the village.
The Observatory reported earlier Thursday that government forces have laid siege to IS-held neighborhoods of Deir el-Zour.
Syria’s state news agency says Hamoudeh Sabbagh, a little-known legislator, has been elected speaker of parliament.
The Syrian Arab News Agency, SANA, said Thursday the new People’s Assembly chief won 193 votes, while his closest opponent only won 10.
Sabbagh replaces Hadiyah Abbas, who was removed from her post in June with a majority of votes. A parliamentary statement says she was removed because of her “undemocratic behaviors,” without elaborating.
Pro-government websites said Sabbagh is a member of President Bashar Assad’s ruling Baath party and became a member of parliament during the 2012 elections.
Assad’s family has ruled Syria since 1970, and he has survived a six-year-old civil war sparked by an uprising against his rule.