SYRIA CONFLICT: SCHOOLCHILDREN KILLED IN IDLIB AIR RAIDS

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Syria (HRNW): More than 20 people, many of them children, have been killed in air strikes on a rebel-held village in north-western Syria, activists say.A school complex was reportedly among several locations targeted in the village of Haas, in Idlib province.

It was not immediately clear if the raids were carried out by Syrian government or Russian warplanes.State media quoted a military source as saying several “terrorists” had been killed when their positions were hit.

The incident comes as the government and its ally Russia said they would continue a moratorium on the aerial bombardment of besieged, rebel-held eastern districts of the city of Aleppo.

The attack on Haas, about 75km (46 miles) south-west of Aleppo, appears to have been intense and flattened a number of buildings, reports the BBC’s James Longman in Beirut.

The Syria Civil Defence, whose rescue workers are known as the White Helmets, said a complex containing three schools was targeted.

Children were reportedly gathered around an entrance when it was hit, at about 11:30 local time (08:30 GMT). They had been allowed to leave classes early because of the raids elsewhere in the village.

Activists shared photographs of dead bodies – many of them children – on the floor of a makeshift treatment centre.

The Syria Civil Defence said initial reports were of more than 20 people being killed, while the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 22, including 14 children and a teacher.

Syria Civil Defence rescue workers at scene of reported air strike in village of Haas, Syria (26 October 2016)

Idlib is one of the last strongholds of the Syrian opposition, and the province has been repeatedly bombed by the Syrian and Russian air forces.

The US-led coalition against so-called Islamic State (IS) has also targeted rival jihadist fighters linked to al-Qaeda who operate there.

Idlib is where civilians from other parts of Syria have been evacuated after being forced to surrender by years of siege and bombardment by government forces.

As part of efforts by the United Nations, the people of eastern Aleppo are being offered safe passage to the province, our correspondent says. But as these latest attacks demonstrate, he adds, nowhere in rebel-held Syria is free from violence.

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