By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
DAMASCUS, SYRIA (BosNewsLife)– Syrian Christians and rights activists say Islamic militants have begun deploying rockets to target Christian sites, killing at least five young children this month alone.
The announcement follows international concern about reports that rebel forces based on the outskirts of Damascus daily fire mortar shells at the capital, which is firmly under government control.
In one of the latest attacks five young children were killed and many others injured when suspected Islamic militants, who are among the rebels, launched two rockets at a Christian school, BosNewsLife learned Friday, November 29.
The children were boarding the school bus to travel home for lunch at the time of the attack, said Voice Of the Martyrs Canada (VOMC), an advocacy group supporting persecuted Christians in the area.
Though nobody claimed responsibility for the attacks, VOMC told BosNewsLife that it was convinced that “the militants are attempting to displace Christian communities” in this heavily Islamic nation.
“Militants often deploy rockets at Christian sites, including schools.”
Though the latest incident “is indeed so very sad” for “these children whose lives have been tragically ended…it is a very happy and blessed time,” added Karyn Marianne, an editorial representative of VOMC.
“No doubt, they have already seen our Lord Jesus face to face, and we know He loves them very much,” she said in remarks to BosNewsLife.
“Of course, we need to pray for the surviving children and their families, plus the teachers and other members of this grieving community. May the prospect of heaven be even more real to them, and may the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit bring them great hope and consolation.”
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The United Nations has expressed outrage over the reported attacks on schools.
“These barbaric acts must stop,” Maria Callvis, director for the Middle East and North Africa for the United Nations Children’s Fund, stressed in a statement.
“All those with influence in Syria have a moral obligation to respect the sanctity of children’s lives and ensure that schools remain a place of safe refuge.”
Schools opened for the fall term in Damascus despite the violence and evidence that many schools have been turned into shelters for people left homeless in the conflict, locals said.
Some 1 million Syrian children were out of school during the last academic year. The more than two-year war has left an estimated 4,000 Syrian schools — about 1 in 5 — damaged, destroyed or transformed into shelters for displaced families, according to United Nations figures.
The war has left as many as 126,000 people dead, according to activists.