April 30, 2014

On Sunday morning, the Syrian air force launched a missile at a makeshift school in a camp for displaced Syrians with 400 students inside. Residents of the Qah camp, located four kilometers east of the Turkish border, had begun the school in an attempt to educate children who fled violence in Hama and Idlib provinces.

The air raid killed one child, injured dozens and damaged the Jil al-Hurriyeh school, which serves 800 children over the course of morning and afternoon shifts. Pro-regime channel A-Dunia reported on Wednesday that government forces “targeted a Jabhat a-Nusra hideout in Qah.”

gf qah3An air raid killed a student at the Jil al-Hourriye school in the Qah camp near Syria's border with Turkey Sunday.

The schoolchildren in Qah are not the war’s only victims this week. On Wednesday, 30 children were killed in a Syrian air force raid on a school in the rebel-held al-Ansari district of Aleppo, according to opposition activists. On Tuesday, rebel mortar shelling on a school in a regime-held neighborhood of Damascus killed 12.

The Qah school, which is funded by the al-Watan Foundation, was in a camp that is neither rebel- nor regime-controlled, says Hiba a-Showaf, one of the managers of the foundation. “We hired three guards at the gates of the school,” a-Showaf tells Osama Abu Zeid. “There are no battalions in Qah at all. It’s only residents and children.”

Q: Regime media said it had targeted a Jabhat a-Nusra military area. Is this a militarized zone?

The area is completely devoid of anything indicating any military features. All that there were was a number of innocent children demanding to live a normal life and continue their education.  I don’t know, maybe pen and paper are weapons in the eyes of the criminal regime.

Q: Generally speaking, who protects this school? Doesn’t the Qah area fall under the control of any specific battalion?

To my knowledge, there are no specific brigades. We hired three guards at the gates of the school to protect the students. There are no battalions in Qah at all. It’s only residents and children.

Q: Has the bombing damaged a large part of the school? Will it continue operating under these conditions?

The school is partially destroyed, but we will repair it, and continue the teaching process. No one will stop us, neither missiles nor barrels. But of course, [we will wait] until things quiet down, and [will] support the children and people psychologically through activities.

Q: Who were the victims of the air raid?

Only one girl died, her name is Shams. Another girl, Katia, is in critical condition and was moved to a hospital in Turkey. Dozens of students at the school were injured; their injuries are not life threatening.

All of the injured were moved to the hospital for their safety, as well as a teacher.

Q: Where are the students at the school in Qah camp from?

No. Most of the children have been displaced from different provinces. There are 800 students in the school, divided into two groups for the morning and the afternoon, so there were 400 students in the school. Most students are displaced from the suburbs of Idlib and Hama provinces.

Q: How many schools does Jil al-Huriya operate and where?  

We have two schools, one in Qah and the other in Telbisa [in rebel-held northern Homs province.] We have a cultural center in Reyhaniyeh [Turkey], and we work in other schools in Syria and on the border. The lessons are ready but we are looking for funding.

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