DAMASCAS, Syria, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Shells fired Sunday by Syrian government forces on a kindergarten near Damascus have killed at least six children. More fatalities are expected.
The shells hit the school while the children were playing in the yard in the rebel-held suburb of Harasta, near Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
The death toll is expected to rise due to the number of children in the yard at the time of the attack, Xinhuanet.com reported.
The watchdog group, based in the United Kingdom, said the rebels in Harasta have repeatedly fired sniper shots at buses carrying passengers along the international highway, prompting the government to come up with an alternate route to avoid the area.
Air raids on civilian areas, conducted by Russian and Syrian regimes, have increased dramatically in the past 24 hours, The New Arab reported.
At least nine other children were injured, according to Syrian activists in the Local Coordination Committee. Those killed were all under the age of five.
Numerous reports are also coming in about regime forces hitting urbanized areas including al-Waer and Homs, injuring large numbers of civilians, including children.
While Russian President Vladimir Putin insists his air forces are trying to avoid civilians while taking out terrorists, the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights says that after one year of Russian involvement, 4,000 out of an estimated 9,000 deaths caused by the strikes were civilians.