Israel weighs opening its hospitals to Aleppo wounded

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during his annual end-of-year address to foreign journalists in Jerusalem on December 20, 2016 (AFP Photo/GIL COHEN-MAGEN) (AFP)

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that he is looking into bringing wounded civilians from the shattered Syrian city of Aleppo to the Jewish state for treatment.

"I've asked the foreign ministry to seek ways to expand our medical assistance to the civilian casualties of the Syrian tragedy, specifically in Aleppo," he said at a year-end reception for foreign media.

"We're prepared to take in wounded women and children, and also men if they're not combatants... bring them into Israel, take care of them in our hospitals as we've done with thousands of Syrian civilians," he said.

"We're looking into the ways of doing this," he added. "It's being explored as we speak."

Israel and its northern neighbour have formally been at war for decades but following the outbreak of the Syrian civil war it has been treating casualties, including wounded fighters.

More than 2,000 Syrians have been treated in Israeli hospitals since 2013, according to the Israeli army.

Syrian government forces last week moved to assert full control over east Aleppo, which had been held by opposition fighters since 2012.

At least 25,000 people have left rebel districts of city since the operation began, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The World Health Organization said the Aleppo evacuees included about 300 people needing medical treatment, among them dozens of children.

"The huge majority of these patients have trauma injuries," spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said, adding that 93 people in critical condition had been referred to hospitals in Turkey.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has the support of Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah movement and, since last year, the Russian air force.

Hezbollah, which fought a devastating war with Israel in 2006, has sent thousands of its fighters to support Syrian government troops.

More than 310,000 people have been killed since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, and over half the population has been displaced, with millions becoming refugees.

The Jewish state has sought to limit its involvement in the conflict, but has carried out sporadic sorties against Hezbollah inside Syria.

Israel says it reserves the right to stop the group acquiring sophisticated weapons from Syria and Iran and threatening Israel from both its Lebanese base and positions in Syria.

"We dont let the Syrian war or aggression from Syria spill over into our territory," Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

"You know our position and my red lines. We keep them -- stringently."