Three Children and a Teacher Killed in Airstrikes on Way to School in NW Syria

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Oct. 20, 2021)— At least three children and one teacher were killed while walking to school in Ariha in North West Syria on Wednesday in a series of airstrikes in Idlib province, Save the Children and its Syrian partner Hurras Network confirmed.

The attacks killed at least ten people, including three children - two aged 12 and one aged 16 - and a 28-year-old female teacher who were walking along a road that leads to six different schools. At least 40 other people were injured in the attacks. 

The airstrikes targeted one of Ariha’s main roads and a market, damaging shops and with one landing around 160 feet from a school, causing minor damage to the playground. A second school building was also damaged in the attacks. 

All schools in the area have been suspended until further notice. Students already at schools were evacuated while all other children and teachers were told to remain at home.

Muhannad*, the damaged school’s principal, told Save the Children:

“There is an abandoned house around 160 feet away from the school, which was hit by a shell. The house was destroyed. We immediately messaged everyone and suspended school. Some shrapnel went into the playground, but the damage was minor thank goodness.”

Haitham*, a teacher from a neighboring school, told Save the Children:

“When we arrived at the school, and the students were there, the shelling and airstrikes started. The students were horrified, they started screaming, we didn’t know what to do. We were worried the students would get injured as the buildings are not protected. The situation was very painful. The civilians were screaming in the streets; everyone was in a state of fear and panic.”

Save the Children research has found that two out of three children in Northern Syria lack access to education after nearly ten years of conflict, displacement, and poverty. It is also estimated that half of the children that were going to school in Northern Syria before the COVID-19 outbreak have now dropped out.

The organization has warned that education remains under threat due to the continuing violence. 

Save the Children’s Syria Response Director, Sonia Khush, said:

“The news of three students and a teacher killed on their way to school this morning is unbearable. All parties to the conflict must abide by the ceasefire agreed last year and protect all civilians, including children. Their right to safely access education must be safeguarded. Schools must be safe places for children to learn without fear.”

Save the Children calls on all sides to the conflict to respect International Humanitarian Law, endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, avoid targeting schools and civilian infrastructure as well as ensure the safety and protection of children.

*Name has been changed.

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