Mostly Children Among 26 Killed in Airstrike on School in Syria, Medics Say

Strikes carried out by Syrian or Russian warplanes on village in rebel-held Idlib province, rescue workers and monitoring group say.

This frame grab from a video of the Revolutionary Forces of Syria shows smoke rising after an airstrike on the village of Hass, Syria, October 26, 2016.
This frame grab from a video of the Revolutionary Forces of Syria shows smoke rising after an airstrike on the village of Hass, Syria, October 26, 2016. Revolutionary Forces of Syria / AP

Airstrikes by Syrian or Russian warplanes killed at least 26 people, most of them school children, in a village in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province on Wednesday, rescue workers and a monitoring group said.

The raids hit a residential area and a school in Haas village, the Syrian Civil Defense rescue workers network said on its Facebook account. 

A report on Syrian state TV quoted a military source saying a number of militants had been killed when their positions were targeted in Haas, but did not mention a school. 

Syria's civil war pits Syrian President Bashar Assad, backed by Russia, Iran and Shi'ite Muslim militias from Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan against an array of mostly Sunni Muslim rebel groups including some backed by Turkey, Gulf monarchies and the United States.

Idlib, near Aleppo in northwest Syria, contains the largest populated area controlled by rebels, both nationalist groups under the banner of the Free Syrian Army and Islamist ones including the former Al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. 

The Civil Defense network, which operates in rebel-held areas in the country, said 20 of the dead in Wednesday's attacks were children. 

Photos taken at the scene showed buildings with walls reduced to rubble, including what appeared to be the school with upturned desks and chairs covered in dust. 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, said the warplanes had struck several locations in Haas including an elementary and middle school, killing at least one teacher as well as the children. 

It gave a lower toll of 15 children killed. 

Western countries and international human rights groups have regularly highlighted the high number of civilian deaths reported after Syrian and Russian airstrikes.