Russia denies bombing Syrian school

Russia denies involvement in bloody air strikes on a school in Idlib in which 22 children were killed.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Aftermath of bombing of school in Idlib
Aftermath of bombing of school in Idlib

Russia on Thursday denied any involvement in bloody air strikes on a Syrian school which took place earlier this week.

Air strikes that hit a school in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province on Wednesday killed 22 children and six teachers.

Local groups said the air strikes were carried out by warplanes that were either Russia or Syrian.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon demanded an immediate probe into the attack which he said "may amount to a war crime".

Russia, whose military intervened in Syria in September 2015, denied having any role in air strikes on the school.

"The Russian Federation has nothing to do with this terrible tragedy, with this attack," foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, adding that Moscow demanded an immediate investigation.

Zakharova said claims Russian and Syrian warplanes had conducted the strikes were "a lie".

Russia's defense ministry also denied any involvement.

"On Wednesday, October 26, not one Russian warplane entered that area," spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

Meanwhile tensions between Russia and Western countries mounted, a day after the United States and Britain said they expected an assault in the next few weeks to drive the Islamic State jihadist group out of Raqa, its de facto capital in Syria.

Syria's conflict broke out in March 2011 with peaceful protests against President Bashar A-Assad's government but has evolved into a complex war involving regional and international powers.

One complication has been the involvement of Turkey, whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced his country's military operation supporting Syrian rebels will also target Raqa.

On a nearby front, the ministry said Syrian and Russian warplanes had not bombed the northern city of Aleppo in the past nine days.

A ceasefire meant to allow evacuations of the besieged rebel-held east of Aleppo ended at the weekend, with Moscow ruling out an extension of the unilateral measure for the time being.

Idlib province is controlled by the Army of Conquest, an alliance of rebel groups and jihadists including the Fateh al-Sham Front, which changed its name from Al-Nusra Front after breaking off ties with Al-Qaeda earlier this year.

Syrian and Russian warplanes regularly bomb Idlib, but air strikes have intensified in recent weeks, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Children were reportedly caught in the crossfire again Thursday, with state media saying at least six were killed and 15 wounded in rebel rocket attacks on the government-held west of Aleppo city.

The rocket fire hit two west Aleppo neighborhoods, with one of the attacks striking a school, said the official SANA news agency.

Outside Damascus, meanwhile, a child was among eight people killed Thursday in government shelling on the rebel-held town of Douma, the Observatory said.

AFP contributed to this report.