UN says school attack potential war crime

2016-10-27 18:59
(IStock)

(IStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Beirut - The UN's children's agency on Thursday raised the death toll from a brutal attack the previous day on a school in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province to 28, including 22 children and six teachers, and suggested it may have been the deadliest attack on a school in the country's civil war.

The air strikes struck the village of Hass around midday on Wednesday, hitting a residential compound that houses a school complex. The Syrian Civil Defence first responder team and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday that the air strikes killed at least 35 people, mostly children.

The Observatory said 15 students were killed, as well as four teachers and three other women. It was not immediately possible to reconcile the separate figures, but divergent death tolls are not uncommon in a conflict-torn Syria that has been largely inaccessible to international media for over two years.

Unicef and the Syrian Civil Defence said the death toll is likely to rise as rescue efforts continue. They said that two schools in the area were hit with 11 air strikes around midday.

Unicef Executive Director Anthony Lake called the air strikes an "outrage," adding that if found to be deliberate the attacks would be considered a war crime.

Barbarity

"This latest atrocity may be the deadliest attack on a school since the war began," Lake said in a statement. "When will the world's revulsion at such barbarity be matched by insistence that this must stop?"

Idlib is the main Syrian opposition stronghold, though radical militant groups also have a large presence there. It has regularly been hit by Syrian and Russian warplanes as well as the US-led coalition targeting Islamic State militants. An activist at the scene said as many as 10 air strikes were believed to have hit Hass on Wednesday.

Juliette Touma, regional Unicef chief of communication, said Wednesday's attack was the deadliest attack on a school in 2016, bring the overall death toll of children killed in such attacks in 2016 to 54.

According to Touma, 591 children were killed in 2015 in Syria.

Prior to Wednesday's attack, the deadliest assault on a school was reported in April 2014 when 30 children were killed in air strikes that hit a school in the rebel-held part of Aleppo city, according to Unicef.

Unicef said it has verified at least 38 attacks on schools this year across Syria, whether in government-held areas or rebel-controlled territory, compared to 60 attacks last year.

"In general there are one in three schools in Syria that can't be used anymore because they were damaged or destroyed or used for military purposes or sheltering the displaced," Touma told The Associated Press, speaking from Amman, Jordan.

Unicef says over 1.7 million Syrian children remain out of school in 2016, a staggering figure but a drop from 2014 when 2.1 million were recorded as not attending classes. The UN agency says another 1.3 million are at risk of dropping out this year.

In the rebel-held part of Aleppo, teachers and volunteers have set up underground schools to ensure some classes continue amid a punishing bombing campaign and a siege that has tightened since July.

Read more on:    unicef  |  syria  |  us  |  syria conflict

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.