BEIRUT — The
No one has taken responsibility for the attacks, but rebel forces based on the outskirts of Damascus daily fire mortar shells at the capital, which is firmly under government control. Civilians often are killed or injured.
The government blames "terrorists'' — its term for armed rebels — for the mortar barrages.
It is not clear whether the attackers are aiming at specific targets or firing randomly into neighborhoods deemed to be largely loyal to the government of President
Human rights groups have regularly condemned large-scale government bombardment of civilian districts under rebel control. The daily shelling of Damascus by rebels has not generated comparable levels of international censure. But the rising number of casualties among schoolchildren prompted UNICEF to voice its outrage.
Also on Monday, mortar rounds struck St. John of Damascus School in the Qassaa district, injuring 11 children, the government said.
They were the latest in a string of mortar attacks that have hit school facilities in Damascus in recent weeks, injuring more than two dozen children, the U.N. noted.
According to U.N. figures, about 1 million Syrian children were out of school during the last academic year. The more than two-year war has left some 4,000 Syrian schools — about 1 in 5 — damaged, destroyed or transformed into shelters for displaced families, the U.N. says.
The conflict has left more than 100,000 people dead, according to U.N. estimates.