Middle East

U.N. denounces bloody week for children in Syria

Rebel fighters take cover as they cross a street in the city of Aleppo on January 18, 2013. AFP PHOTO / ELIAS EDOUARD

BEIRUT: The United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF) on Saturday denounced violence over the past week in Syria in which dozens of children were killed.

"A series of reports from Syria this week underlines the terrible price children are paying" in a conflict that has ravaged the country for 22 months and left more than 60,000 people dead, according to UN figures.

"Media reports today (Friday) from the scene of mass killings in the village of Hasawiya outside Homs said whole families were among the dead in horrific circumstances," said Maria Calivis, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"UNICEF condemns these latest incidents in the strongest terms, and once again calls on all parties to ensure civilians -- and children especially -- are spared the effects of the conflict."

Every day this week, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported children killed. It said Monday was a particularly bloody day, with 31 child victims across the country.

On Tuesday, the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and rebels traded accusations over responsibility for twin blasts at Aleppo University which left 87 fatalities, including many students, the Britain-based watchdog reported.

The same day, around 100 civilians, including women and children, were killed in army operations in the country's central Homs province.

On Thursday, at least seven girls were killed by an air strike in southern Damascus.

The Observatory, which relies on a network of activists and medics fort its information, has documented 3,538 children killed since the start of the revolt in March 2011. It also gave a toll of 2,031 women killed in the violence.





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