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At least 50 people killed in Syria airstrikes -

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MARK COLVIN: Schools and hospitals have been caught up in airstrikes in northern Syria which have killed up to 50 people.

Some of the facilities that came under attack were run by UNICEF and the medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

They included a child and maternity hospital.

Despite the push by world leaders for a "cessation of hostilities" or ceasefire in Syria, its President Bashar al-Assad has downplayed the effect it would have.

SARAH SEDGHI: Humanitarian workers say the latest strikes are another example of innocent people being caught in the long-running, brutal war.

Marc Schakal is the Médecins Sans Frontières head of mission for Jordan.

MARC SCHAKAL: We are condemning very strongly this attack because it leaves the catchment area of 40,000 people without any access of health care, in an environment where already the system is already very exhausted, so it's making things very difficult.

SARAH SEDGHI: The United Nations says up to 50 people including children have been killed in air raids on two schools and five hospitals.

The air raids were in different parts of northern Syria and while the UN hasn't directed blame, Turkey says Russia is responsible.

A Médecins Sans Frontières supported clinic in Idlib province and two UNICEF supported facilities were attacked.

In a statement, UNICEF's executive director Anthony Lake says "apart from compelling considerations of diplomacy and obligations under international humanitarian law, let us remember that these victims are children."

MSF says it's assessing how best to protect clinics from violence.

Aitor Zabalgogeazkoa is spokesman for the organisation in Turkey.

AITOR ZABALGOGEAZKOA: We are just evaluating permanently which are the best measures to protect the medical facilities and the medical personnel but it is really difficult. The thing is that currently the situation looks like increasingly more violent at least in the area of Aleppo and Idlib.

We need to look deeply at how we can continue providing medical assistance to the population, at the same time that we can provide maximum security for health workers and health facilities.

SARAH SEDGHI: The UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon says the attacks are "blatant violations of international laws".

Turkey and France say the attacks are war crimes.

Only last week world powers including the US and Russia met in Munich to work on a plan for ending hostilities in Syria and to get urgent aid into besieged areas.

The deal is meant to become effective later this week, but Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is questioning the plan.

BASHAR AL-ASSAD (translated): Until now, we hear about them requesting a ceasefire within a week. OK, then who is capable of bringing together all these conditions within a week? No-one.

Who will speak to the terrorists if a terrorist organisation refused to adhere to the ceasefire, who will make them accountable?

SARAH SEDGHI: The US national security advisor Susan Rice says that every effort needs to be made to protect civilians from violence.

SUSAN RICE: What concerns us is that as the violence continues, more and more civilians are being impacted. And the pressure on civilians in the outflow of displaced persons from their areas of residence is increasing.

And that is why we have put a premium on trying to halt the violence, enable humanitarian access and create an environment that is conducive for a political track to get underway. That is the reason for our collective efforts in Munich.

SARAH SEDGHI: The war in Syria has gone on for nearly five years and the fighting has killed around 250,000 people and displaced millions.

MARK COLVIN: Sarah Sedghi was the reporter there.