Syrian government airstrike 'targets school' killing at least eight children

UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says death toll is expected to rise as raids hit northern city of al-Raqqa
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An airstrike has hit a school in northern Syria, killing at least 12 people most of whom were children, an opposition group has said.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which uses sources inside the country to report on atrocities committed by the Assad regime, said the death toll was likely to rise with several people still seriously injured.

The air raid took place in the major city of al-Raqqa on the north bank of the Euphrates River. It is the only provincial capital under full rebel control in the whole of Syria.

While President Bashar al-Assad’s government has relied heavily on its aerial power to maintain a strong position in Syria’s civil war, the Observatory said the regime has pledged in the past not to target schools and universities.

The attack this morning appeared to hit an open area at the front of the school. With Sunday being the first day of the working week for most schools in Syria, dozens were caught up in the blast.

Observatory director Rami Abdul-Rahman said at least eight of the dead were students at the al-Tijariya high school.

In a statement he said: “The SOHR strongly condemns this massacre committed on Syria's promising future generation and demands, once again, to take the daily atrocities and war crimes committed in Syria to the International Criminal Court in order that those committing and participating in the crimes be prosecuted and punished.”

Amateur videos posted online showed at least nine bodies, some of them missing limbs, lying on pockmarked pavement strewn with rubble. At least four of the bodies appeared to be of young people.

Another video shows pools of blood on the ground and a concrete wall destroyed in the bombing.

The Associated Press reported that the videos appeared genuine, though they could not be fully independently verified, and said the images corresponded to other reports coming through of the events shown.