Four schools damaged across Syria as 1,500 students affected

AMMAN: Four schools shut their doors to an estimated 1,500 students after rebel fire on west Aleppo and regime shelling of rebel-held areas around Syria on Sunday killed 12 children and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

The Syrian regime’s Russian-backed air campaign hit two schools in the adjacent towns of Maarat al-Numan and Maarat al-Misrin in the south Idlib countryside and one school in the East Ghouta suburb of Damascus on Sunday, while mortar shells from opposition factions crashed into a school in west Aleppo.

Mohammad al-Bustani, a student at the Sariya Hassoun School in the Furqan district of west Aleppo, was in his first-grade class on Sunday when rocket fire struck the school and killed him, his mother, Um Mohammad, told Syria Direct on Monday.

 A child’s notebook at al-Qamrah School in East Ghouta. Photo courtesy of Micro Syria.

"It doesn’t matter which side is accused [of the bombing], all that matters to me is the loss of my child,” said Um Mohammad. The Sariya Hassoun School is now closed until further notice.

Eight children and one teacher from the regime-controlled half of Aleppo city were killed after “terrorist groups positioned in Bustan al-Qasser” fired a mortar shell at the school, state news agency SANA reported on Sunday.

East Ghouta

Also on Sunday, a regime airstrike on al-Nashabiyah, a rebel-held town in the East Ghouta suburbs outside Damascus, killed a child and teacher when a warplane hit the local elementary school, Saeed Abu Yassin, an al-Nashabiyah resident, told Syria Direct on Monday.

The father of an elementary student, 40-year-old Abu Yassin says he is not willing to send his child back to school.

"As I see it, my son has lost his future, but I won’t lose him. He doesn’t have a future with the war anyway,” said Abu Yassin.

On Monday, the Directorates of Education in Idlib and East Ghouta announced that public and private schools would be closed for three days.

 Abu Alaa al-Maari Elementary School in Maarat al-Numan on Sunday. Photo courtesy of The Syrian Network for Human Rights.

“Schools are often suspended because of the regime’s brutal shelling,” said Abu Yassin, adding that schools have been open only one-third of the time since the school year began in mid-September.

Idlib province

In rebel-held Idlib province in Syria’s northwest, a Russian warplane struck an elementary school in Maarat al-Numan during a series of strikes in the southern countryside, killing three students and injuring 15 more, Civil Defense officials there told Syria Direct on Monday.

Just a few kilometers to the east, a strike from the same air campaign damaged a computer school in Maarat al-Misrin, injuring five students, Hatem Abu Marwan, the director of the Syrian Civil Defense in the region, told Syria Direct on Monday.

Russian airstrikes in the region also partially damaged a school complex in Hass, roughly 5km west from Maarat al-Numan on Sunday, said Abu Marwan.

Human Rights Watch issued a report last week entitled “Russia/Syria: Satellite, Video Imagery Confirm School Attack” providing evidence that indicts a Russian warplane in the bombing of a school in Hass on October 26, despite the Russian Defense Ministry’s denial of responsibility for the strike.

The four school bombings across the country coincided with the United Nations Universal Children’s Day, celebrated in Homs city on Sunday, SANA reported on Monday.

Alaa Nassar

Alaa was forced to flee Damascus with her family because of the pressure from the Syrian regime in 2013. She was a student of Arabic Language & Literature at the University of Damascus. She came to Syria Direct because she hopes to find a new direction in her life and to show the world what is happening in her country.

Bahira al-Zarier

Bahira is from Damascus. She studied business and marketing before moving to Jordan in 2013. She did volunteer work in support of many refugee organizations before joining Syria Direct.

Osama Hmaidi

Originally from Azzaz in northern Aleppo province, Osama studied political science in Damascus before moving to Jordan in 2013.

Ahmad al-Majareesh

Ahmad was studying Arabic Literature at Damascus University when the war intensified in 2012. Originally from Daraa, Ahmad wants to write about people in his home province.

Tariq Adely

Tariq Adely graduated from Brown University in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in comparative literature and translation. He continued his studies at the Qasid Institute and the Institute for Critical Thought in Amman, Jordan.