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A Syrian civil defence volunteer carries a wounded child following a reported air strike in a rebel-held region of Aleppo, Syria, on Saturday. At least five people are reported killed.

THAER MOHAMMED/AFP/Getty Images

Government air raids struck at least five medical facilities in the northern province of Aleppo, where violence has intensified in recent weeks amid a siege by government forces, Syrian opposition activists said Sunday.

The activists said the air raids began late Saturday night and continued until after midnight, killing at least five people across the city, including an infant.

The International Committee of the Red Cross tweeted after reports of the air raids on the provincial capital of Aleppo and the nearby town of Atareb: "Harrowing news: More hospitals hit in #Aleppo this morning. Civilians and hospitals are #notatarget."

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Rival sides in Syria's five-year conflict have targeted hospitals and clinics in the past.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four clinics were now out of service in the city of Aleppo, as was a fifth in the town Atareb to the west. It said five people had been killed in Aleppo city.

The observatory said the clinics closed because they feared being targeted again.

Aleppo-based activist Baraa al-Halaby confirmed that five clinics were hit, adding that an infant was killed in a clinic in the Shaar neighbourhood of Aleppo in the early hours of Sunday. He added that a blood bank was struck in Aleppo as well.

One of the facilities hit, Al-Bayan Hospital, posted several photographs on its Facebook page showing the damage to the building. A caption read that the hospital was subjected to "more than one air strike by warplanes causing wide damage and completely putting the hospital out of service until further notice."

An amateur video posted online shows two nurses, one carrying a baby. They move past seven incubators – four with newborns inside – lining both sides of a room that appears undamaged. The camera then looks out over a balcony lined with sandbags, showing a dusty scene outside and one man running across an otherwise deserted street.

The video appeared genuine and corresponded to other AP reporting of the events.

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According to Physicians for Human Rights, 750 medical personnel have been killed in Syria so far, 698 of whom were killed in attacks carried out by government forces and their Russian allies. The group says that between 2011 and May this year, there were 373 attacks on 265 medical facilities.

"The deliberate targeting of hospitals is part of a strategy to either drive civilians to leave the country or ensure their suffering is severe if they remain in opposition-held areas," said Widney Brown, director of programs at Physicians for Human Rights.

"If they are wounded from attacks they may not be able to get life-saving treatment. If they are sick, likewise," Ms. Brown said.

The activist Mr. al-Halaby said that later Sunday an air raid struck a store house that had some 10,000 food baskets that were to be used in case people become in need for food.

"They are targeting all vital public utilities," Mr. al-Halaby said by telephone.

Syrian government forces and their allies cut the main road into rebel-held parts of the country, known as the Castello road, last week – laying siege to opposition-held parts of Aleppo. The country's largest city and former commercial centre, Aleppo has been contested since July 2012.

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