Schoolchildren among 35 dead in Syria raids: monitor

\ Beirut, Oct 26 (AFP) Air strikes on Syria\\’s rebel-held\Idlib province hit a school and the surrounding area today,\killing at least 35 civilians including many children, a\monitor and activists said.\ The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said \\"warplanes\– either Russia or Syrian — carried out six strikes\\" in the\village of Hass, including on a school complex.\ Eleven schoolchildren were among the dead, said the\Britain-based monitor.\ The White Helmets civil defence group released pictures\of four rescue workers clambering over a mound of rubble in\search of survivors after what it said was a \\"double-tap\\"\strike on the school.\ The raids hit Hass around 11.30 AM (local time), an\activist with the opposition Idlib Media Centre told AFP.\ \\"One rocket hit the entrance of the school as students\were leaving to go home, after the school administration\decided to end classes for the day because of the raids,\\" the\activist said, speaking on condition of anonymity.\ Other activists from the province circulated a photograph\on social media of a child\\’s arm, seared off above the elbow,\still clutching the strap of a dusty black rucksack.\ Shaky video footage depicted rescue workers sprinting\towards the site of the raids and pulling a frail, elderly man\out of a collapsed building.\ The authenticity of the pictures and footage could not be\independently verified.\ The latest attacks took to 89 the number of civilians\killed in air strikes on Idlib province in the past seven\days, said the Observatory.\ Syrian government forces and their Russian ally have been\accused by rights groups of carrying out indiscriminate\attacks on civilian infrastructure.\ A leading opposition group condemned the raids.\ The Istanbul-based National Coalition said Russian and\regime warplanes \\"targeted children in their schools,\deliberately and intentionally hitting civilians with\high-explosive material\\".\ Idlib province is controlled by the Army of Conquest, an\alliance of rebel groups and jihadists including the Fateh\al-Sham Front, which changed its name from Al-Nusra Front\after breaking off ties with Al-Qaeda earlier this year.\ Syrian and Russian warplanes regularly bomb Idlib, but\air strikes have intensified in recent weeks, according to the\Observatory.\ Swathes of eastern Syria is controlled by the Islamic\State group.\ Today, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter and his British\counterpart Michael Fallon said an offensive to drive IS out\of its Syrian stronghold of Raqa would begin in the next few\weeks. (AFP)\PRG\

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