Friday 9 December 2016

Assad air strike on village school kills 14 children

Josie Ensor Beirut

Published 27/10/2016 | 02:30

Traumatised children being led away by an adult after the deadly attack on the rebel-held village of Hass in northern Syria. Photo: AP
Traumatised children being led away by an adult after the deadly attack on the rebel-held village of Hass in northern Syria. Photo: AP

More than 14 Syrian children were killed yesterday after their school was hit in an air strike as they left to go home.

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The strike, which activists said was carried out by either Syrian or Russian warplanes, hit a complex housing three primary and secondary schools in the village of Hass, near Idlib, at 11.30am.

Some seven teachers were also killed in the attack, which reportedly left 75 injured.

"One rocket hit the entrance of the school as students were leaving to go home, after the administration decided to end classes for the day because of the raids," a local activist said.

One picture taken from the scene showed a lifeless child, still clutching their black school bag. Another showed nearly a dozen small bodies covered with green blankets in the corridor of a nearby hospital.

Doctors treated the wounded, some of whom looked to be around eight years old.

A report on Syrian state TV quoted a military source as saying a number of militants had been killed when their positions were targeted in Hass, but did not mention a school.

The Syrian regime has been accused of deliberately targeting civilians, in attacks on schools, hospitals and homes.

Many schools in opposition-held areas have had to move underground to protect against air strikes, while some seven million Syrian children are out of education altogether as it has become too dangerous to attend lessons.

Government air strikes have intensified around Idlib in recent months. The northern Syrian city is held by opposition group Army of Conquest, an alliance of rebel and more extreme jihadist groups, which forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been trying to root out.

The Syrian regime was also accused yesterday of dropping barrel bombs on US and Turkey-backed rebels, in what would be the government's first such strike since its ground incursion in August.

Two fighters were killed and five were wounded in the village of Tall Nayif in northern Syria, in an attack which threatens to open up a new front in the civil war.

Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield two months ago, sending tanks and troops into Syria in support of rebels to push Isil from its frontier and prevent Kurdish militias taking ground in their wake.

After clearing the border, the rebels have been moving south to the Isil-held city of al-Bab, 30km south of the regime's front line near Aleppo.

The field commander of pro-government forces, which includes the Lebanese group Hizbollah, Iraqi militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, yesterday warned Turkey against advancing any further as they would be met with "decisively and with force". (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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