UNICEF says Idlib school attack may be deadliest of Syria war
In a rebel-held part of Norther Syria, a school compound was repeatedly hit by airstrikes on Wednesday in an assault, which according to monitoring groups and rescuers had left dozens of people dead, including many children.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said the assault in Idlib Province may have been the deadliest on a school since the Syrian war began more than five years ago.
According to the report in The New York Times , 22 children and six teachers were killed in the strikes. Other estimates, including those from witnesses quoted by Agence France-Presse, said at least 35 civilians had died.
“This is a tragedy, it is an outrage, and if deliberate it is a war crime,” Anthony Lake, the executive director of UNICEF said in a statement. “When will the world’s revulsion at such barbarity be matched by insistence that this must stop?”
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is a monitoring group, warplanes it identified as either Syrian or Russian made at least six strikes on the village of Haas, including on the school compound.
The White Helmets, which is a civil defense group, posted photographs of obliterated buildings on Twitter and said that at least seven airstrikes had hit a three-school complex in Haas, reports said.
The area which was targeted in Idlib is under control of an alliance of rebel groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. Reportedly, it has been frequently bombed by Assad’s air force and its Russian ally, which intervened to help him more than a year ago.
In the reports of state-run Syrian news media it was said that militants had been targeted by government forces in Haas, but there had been no mention of a school assault.
At the United Nations, the Russian ambassador, Vitaly I. Churkin, said he knew nothing about the assault. “It’s horrible. I hope we were not involved,” he said.
According to report of The New York Times, Russia and Syria have been increasingly assailed by the United States and other supporters of the Syrian opposition for what they call indiscriminate bombings that kill civilians in the conflict. Assad and his supporters say they are targeting terrorists.
It has been estimated that around 3,00,000 to 4,70,000 civilians have died since the conflict began in March 2011. Reportedly, roughly half the country’s population has been displaced.