Five Children Killed, Six Other Children Injured in Bomb Attack While Playing Near Monastery in Syrian Town of al-Suqaylabiyah

Five children were killed while playing near a monastery in the Syrian Christian town of al-Suqaylabiyah in what is believed to be an attack carried out by Islamic extremists.

According to the nonprofit NGO International Christian Concern, Syrian opposition forces fired rockets into a regime-held Christian-majority town in northwestern Syria on Sunday, May 12.

Those killed included five children aged 6 to 10, and one woman on a nearby street. Eight others, including six children, were wounded.

“The kids went out to play after some days of calm,” Father Maher Haddad, a local priest, told the Associated Press. The report continued, “A rocket struck near a group of children, instantly killing five and wounding others … the woman was killed in a nearby street by a separate rocket.”

The Greek Orthodox town also suffered widespread material damage as a result of the attack.

While no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, the AP notes the rockets were fired from nearby Idlib, where Al-Qaeda affiliate Tahrir al-Sham and the Free Syrian Army remain active. Tahrir al-Sham has a history of attempting to seize Christian towns in the area of al-Suqaylabiyah.

Syrian state media says that the regime retaliated against the al-Suqaylabiyah attack by firing shells toward insurgents on the southern edge of Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in the country.

Fighting has escalated between government forces and non-state armed groups in northwest Syria in recent weeks, according to UK-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). Since April 30, Syrian troops have been on the offensive and have repeatedly launched airstrikes against rebel forces there.

The escalation in violence has prompted the displacement of more than 180,000 people in the territory and killed more than 120 people, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett

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