Schoolchildren walk next to the rubble of a bombed-out structure near Aleppo, Syria, where Syrian and Russian airstrikes have leveled many of the area's schools, dwellings and other buildings. At least 22 children died in an airstrike Wednesday, UNICEF said. Photo courtesy UNICEF
HAAS, Syria, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- More than two dozen people, mostly schoolchildren, were killed in Syria Wednesday as the result of airstrikes ordered by President Bashar Assad's regime, witnesses and rescuers said.
The air raid struck targets Wednesday in the town of Haas in Idlib province in northwest Syria, which is located about 35 miles southwest of the contested city of Aleppo.
At least 26 people were killed by the strikes, including 22 children who were attending school in the area at the time of the attack.
The child toll was reported by the United Nations' children's charity UNICEF.
"This latest atrocity may be the deadliest attack on a school since the war began more than five years ago," UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake said.
According to a Syrian monitor and rescuers, the warplanes belonged to the Syrian government or Russia, which has been assisting Assad's regime in bombing rebel and militant targets.
BBC News reported that a state news outlet cited a Syrian military source as saying several "terrorists" were killed in the airstrikes.
"The airstrikes directly hit residential buildings and the Hass school, which proves the regime's intention to kill as many civilians as possible," activist Omran Samasra told ARA News.
UNICEF reported just this week that thousands of Syrian children are risking their lives this time of year by going to school in the civil war-torn nation.
"In Syria, children are risking death to go to school. In the past two weeks, nine school-children, aged as young as five, lost their lives in two separate attacks on or near schools," Hanaa Singer, UNICEF's Representative in Syria, said. "School should not be a death trap. It should a place where children are protected and able to learn, grow, and develop their skills."
"I go to school every day except for the times when I hear the planes," one student, Judy, 9, said earlier this month.