Syria's Children Bear Brunt Of Recent Airstrikes, Bombings

ISTANBUL -- A spate of airstrikes and other attacks in recent days have left scores of children dead across Syria, underscoring the dangers facing innocent civilians amid the conflict's rising brutality.

On Wednesday, an airstrike by regime jets hit an elementary school in Aleppo, killing at least a dozen children who were in the process of preparing for an art exhibition, according to activist reports. Estimates for the number of children killed in the attack ranged up to 45.

On Thursday, a complex attack on a bustling market in Aleppo left 33 dead and wounded many others, including children, according to reports. The attack, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told The New York Times, involved a pair of missile strikes from government jets followed by at least four barrel bombs -- improvised and imprecise weapons that have become the regime's destructive tool of choice in Aleppo.

And on Friday, a pair of car bombings in Hama province, believed to be set off by rebel factions, left 18 dead, including at least 11 children, according to Syrian state media. A similar double car bombing in a residential neighborhood in the city of Homs, earlier in the week, left at least 40 dead, most of them civilians, including an estimated five children.

Around 90 people die every day in Syria's ongoing war, according to detailed tallies by the watchdog group Violations Documentation Center. The majority of those killed are in rebel-held or opposition areas that have faced aerial bombardment by the Syrian air force, but explosive attacks in pro-government areas are also on the rise. The regime has repeatedly underscored that its attacks -- including a near-constant bombardment of Aleppo over the past several months -- are targeted on militants and "terrorist" factions.

But the deaths of so many children in the past week underscore the dangers facing civilians who remain in the areas under attack, as well as the imprecision of car bombs and the barrel bombs, which typically consist of little more than steel canisters stuffed with explosives and bits of rebar or other metal scraps.

"Every day, across Syria, children who are simply trying to go about their everyday lives are being killed and maimed by indiscriminate attacks on populated areas," said Maria Calivis, the regional director of UNICEF, the United Nation's agency for children, in a statement made amid the spike in attacks earlier in the week. "These attacks appear to be escalating, in complete disregard of all the calls that have been made to stop this insane cycle of violence, and to avoid similar breaches of international law."

In a report published last month, the international advocacy group Save the Children described the impact of the war on Syria's children as "devastating."

In addition to the impact of bombings and other acts of war, the report noted that Syria's depleted medical facilities mean that children face medieval care, or none at all. The report estimates that "several thousands of children" have died from treatable conditions.

"Increasing numbers of children are suffering and dying from diseases that would previously either have been treated or prevented from taking hold in the first place," the report stated.