Regime bombardment of Syrian school kills children and teacher
Missiles fired by Syrian regime forces killed eight civilians, including four children and their teacher, in Idlib province on Wednesday, according to monitors.
Part of the Abdo Al-Salama School building in the town of Sarmeen had been turned into a shelter for displaced people. Sixteen people were wounded including some in a critical condition.
The Syrian Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, rushed to rescue victims of the bombing. They reported that the missile contained internationally banned cluster munitions.
An AFP correspondent in Sarmeen saw the remains of a missile several metres long still smoking, in a nearby olive grove.
Since 15 December, shortly after the end of negotiations in the Kazakh capital Nursultan (formerly known as Astana), Russian and regime forces intensified their bombardment of Idlib province which is the last rebel-held area in Syria. Scores of civilians have been killed.
Airstrikes resumed on Monday after a five-day lull caused by heavy rains and winter weather.
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On Christmas Eve, five children and three adults were killed in a suspected Russian strike on a school in the town of Saraqib. The Syrian Network for Human Rights said that at least 29,017 children have been killed since the uprising against the Assad regime began in March 2011.
In December alone, the violence pushed some 284,000 from their homes in the region, which hosts over three million people, about half of them displaced from previous rounds of Syria’s conflict.
The mass movement of people has seen public buildings such as mosques, garages, wedding halls and schools turned into shelters, UN humanitarian agency OCHA says.
The city of Maaret al-Numan in southern Idlib province, which once hosted 110,000 people has been effectively emptied of its inhabitants by Russian and regime bombing, with only a few thousand people remaining.
On Monday, an aid worker and baby were killed in the city by a bomb dropped from a regime helicopter, as they tried to flee the city.
It is believed that Russia and the regime are seeking to take control of the strategic M5 highway, which passes through the rebel-held province and connects Damascus to Aleppo.
Syria's civil war has killed more than 500,000 people since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of pro-democracy protests by the Assad regime.
In total 11,215 people including over 1,000 children were killed during the war last year, although it was the least deadly year on record since the beginning of the conflict.
Agencies contributed to this report.