Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, the Assad regime has deliberately targeted civilian infrastructures such as hospitals, schools and mosques in heavy air and ground attacks.
A special report by the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) revealed that over 1,356 schools were targeted across the country between March 2011 and August 2018. These attacks on educational infrastructures resulted in the death of at least 171 children and 528 civilians.
The NGO said more than half of the schools have been left unserviceable by attacks carried out by regime forces, Russian warplanes, a U.S.-led coalition, Daesh and YPG/PKK terrorist organizations and anti-regime opposition groups.
US rips Assad regime over death notices
The U.S. on Monday strongly criticized the Syrian regime over "thousands" of death notices it has been releasing, saying they confirm suspicions of systematic arrests, torture and murder.State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement that over 117,000 people are believed to have been detained or forcibly disappeared in Syria since the conflict began in 2011, and "the vast majority" are suspected to be in regime custody "across a network of prisons where regime officials torture and murder civilians to intimidate and silence any opposition” to Bashar al-Assad’s rule."Extensive documentation and other evidence of this torture and murder is being collected by international organizations and support the world’s continued condemnation of the Syrian regime and prosecution of culpable officials in various courts," she said."The United States strongly reiterates its condemnation of the Assad regime’s cruel actions and calls on it to adhere to international laws and norms pertaining to the treatment of prisoners, including by allowing access for independent monitors."Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.Hundreds of thousands have been killed and millions displaced in the seven-year conflict, according to UN figures. The Syrian Network for Human Rights says nearly 120,000 people have been arbitrarily arrested.'Assad regime keeping over 500,000 captives in prisons'UN awaits details of US-Russia plan on Syrian refugeesAssad regime sets sights on Syria's Turkmen Mountain
The rights group noted that the number of attacks has sharply increased since 2015 when Russian forces began its massive air campaign in support of Syrian regime forces.
According to the NGO, regime forces carried out 996 attacks on schools, while Russian warplanes were responsible for 169 attacks.
The U.S.-led coalition launched 87 attacks on schools, while anti-regime groups were responsible for 36 attacks, Daesh launched 23 attacks and YPG/PKK terrorists carried out three attacks.
Turkey to open sports facilities for youth in Syria
Turkey is set to open sports facilities in regions of Syria rid of terrorists by the Turkish-led Operation Euphrates Shield, said state youth and sports officials on Tuesday.A football pitch in Al-Bab, Syria has already gone into service, to the delight of locals, said a statement by the Provincial Youth Services and Sports Directorate in Gaziantep, southeastern Turkey.Various sports facilities are being established for young people in the regions of Jarablus, Al-Bab, Bizaah, and Kabasin as coordinated by the Youth and Sports Ministry, the statement added.Okkes Demir, provincial youth and sports director, stated that the ministry continues to pursue projects to enable Syrian young people to have access to sports and artistic and social-cultural activities."For artistic and social-cultural activities, we will open four container youth centers in Jarablus," he added.In its Operation Euphrates Shield which began in August 2016 and ended in March 2017, Turkey cleared the northern Syrian regions of Jarablus, Al-Rai, Al-Bab, and Azaz of YPG/PKK terrorists.Turkey forming space agency this year: Tech minister
The NGO said unidentified elements were responsible for 42 attacks on schools in Syria.
Idlib province the most targeted
Due to the regime’s indiscriminate attacks, many Syrian families are unable to send their children to schools. Instead, they have to work at an early age to support their families.
Most of the government strikes are on the opposition-controlled areas, especially Idlib, which rendered most of the schools unserviceable.
'Assad regime keeping over 500,000 captives in prisons'
A Syrian Turkmen commander said the Assad regime has kept at least 500,000 people in prisons.Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Turkmen Mountain region's 3rd Coastal Armed Division Commander Tarik Solak recalled his two-and-a-half-year ordeal of captivity in the regime’s notorious Saydnaya Prison in capital Damascus.“Around 4,000 people are held hostage at Saydnaya Military Prison. There are at least half a million prisoners nationwide,” Solak said.“They have even turned schools into prisons. There are prisons that we are not even aware of.”Amnesty International has termed Saydnaya a “human slaughterhouse”, known for its systematic murder, torture, enforced disappearance and extermination carried out since 2011.“Our division was at the Israeli border. We were 270 people. We wanted to leave the military and join the opposition. There was no opposition back then, we wanted to join the civilians,” Solak said.He said they were held by the regime after their secret was leaked from within their own ranks.Solak added that they faced immense torture in prison.“After getting to the ward [following captivity in a cell for 33 days], torture continued in different ways. We were 20 people. They beat us at every meal. They electrocuted us. They would empty our food into the toilet. 'Eat there', they would say. They would violently beat us with water pipes.”He added: “It was forbidden to see the military doing these things. When he heard the sound of footsteps, we had to put our hands on our heads and face the wall.”Solak was “pardoned” and released for an unknown reason in June 2014.“In the last three months in prison, they were starved, they began to vomit, then got diarrhea and died. I've experienced it all too. I got out in the last phase. I could no longer stand on my feet. I expected to die. One day they pulled me out,” Solak said.He came out weighing only 40 kilograms and had to undergo five surgeries on his stomach and intestines.- Developments at the Turkmen Mountain regionOn the recent military buildup in the region, Solak said: “There is Turkey’s presence at the de-escalation zone. The Turkish soldiers say they will not withdraw and the regime will not attack. We take strength from them.”He emphasized that the buildup was done by Iran-backed terrorist groups, and that Iran wants to seize all of Syrian territory and settle in.Last week, the regime began a military buildup in southwestern Idlib in a bid to attack Syria’s northwestern Turkmen Mountain region, which is located within the de-escalation zones.Idlib was a top issue during the Astana meeting, as the Turkish delegation stressed the importance of maintaining the cease-fire regime in the region.Solak said that Russia assured the opposition in Daraa during the 9th round of Astana talks, but seized it at the first opportunity.“That is why we have made our preparations of defense [in Idlib]. But we are committed to our guarantor Turkey's strategy. The first stage is the dissolution of radical groups,” Solak said.He said: “We have Turkmen Mountains, but with 5 million people staying in Idlib, it would not be worthy for us. The priority is Idlib. If Idlib is lost, neither Al-Bab nor Afrin can be protected.”“When the time comes, I do not believe Turkey will leave Turkmen Mountain to its fate. I believe they will not leave,” Solak added.
SNHR also said that a total of 361 schools have been damaged in the northwestern province of Idlib, 260 in Aleppo, 198 in Damascus and its countryside, 118 in Homs, 76 in Raqqah, 103 in Daraa, 122 in Hama, 106 in Deir ez-Zour, 8 in Hasakah and 4 in Latakia.
Last month, Virginia Gamba, the UN special representative for children in armed conflict, said more than 7,000 children have been killed in Syria since 2011.
The UN had earlier said that some 2.1 million Syrian children were unable to continue their education due to the ongoing conflict in Syria.
UN awaits details of US-Russia plan on Syrian refugees
The UN refugee agency UNHCR is awaiting for details of a U.S.-Russian plan on the return of Syrian refugees, a UNHCR spokeswoman in Lebanon said Sunday.“A UNHCR team is communicating with Syrians in Lebanon and we have a team in Syria,” Lisa Abou Khaled told Anadolu Agency.Moscow and Washington were reportedly discussing a joint plan to jointly organize the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland following agreements between the Russian and American leaders during their summit talks in Helsinki last month.As for the return of refugees to their areas, Abou Khaled said “some of those who returned could not go back to their homes and some others went to live with their relatives.”“Regarding the security situation, we do not have sufficient data,” the spokeswoman said, going on to assert the UN agency’s relations with the Lebanese government were good.Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil has earlier accused the UNHCR of hampering the return of Syrian refugees in Lebanon to their war-torn country, an accusation denied by the UN agency.There are around 997,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, according to UN figures. This figure, however, does not include refugees who are not officially registered with the UNHCR.Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.Tens of thousands have been killed and millions displaced in the seven-year conflict, according to UN figures.Russia confirms proposed Syria cooperation with USChina willing to fight alongside Assad regime