Alleged attack on school in Hass, October 26, 2016

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A classroom in the school in Hass

On Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, perhaps the deadliest-yet alleged attack on a school was reported in the rebel-held town of Hass (alt Haas, Has - Arabic حاس ) in Idlib province. The attack was said to kill over 30 civilians and no rebel fighters. The dead are said to include at least 22 children, several teachers, and some parents. Opposition activists and "rescuers with the White Helmets" blamed airstrikes, at least two of them, carried out by Syrian or perhaps Russian jets. Russia denies having jets in the area, as does the US-led coalition, who therefore blame Syria or Russia.

Location

Location of school in Hass
in more detail

Haas is located here on Wikimapia, between Maarat Numan and Kafranbel, well south of Idlib city. The damaged school seen by Russian drone is in the town's southeast, labeled complex of five schools on Wikimapia. The plume videos might be filmed from the east edge of town on main street - if they're filmed in the later morning as alleged, the views are to the southwest, atop or over a nearby hill. The plume on the left (further east) is older, the one on the right caused after a long delay. The dubious scenes with victim rescue might be in the orchards area south of the schools.

The top view here (from Twitter) matches the Russian drone view to part of the school compound using a video still. The lower view (ACLOS) compares several views with this area, and the next school south, where mot damage views are actually from (note: the Minaret also lines up perfectly - it's 380 meters to the west-northwest). So far we have no matching drone footage for this damage to show if there is or isn't a crater (note: there seems to be a sizeable crater whee the corner of the wall once was - yellow circle).

According to the SNHR's report, the northern school seen by Russian drone is Martyr Kamal Qalaji primary school - the widely-seen site to the south is Hass preparatory school for girls. The other, perhaps unseen, to the west of that, is Hass preparatory school for boys.

Activist claims

  • Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake on deadly attacks on schools in Idlib, northwest Syria - October 26, 2016
    NEW YORK/AMMAN, 26 October 2016 – “Twenty-two children and six teachers were reportedly murdered today when their school compound was repeatedly attacked in Idlib, Syria.
    “This is a tragedy. It is an outrage. And if deliberate, it is a war crime.
    “This latest atrocity may be the deadliest attack on a school since the war began more than five years ago.
    “Children lost forever to their families … teachers lost forever to their students … one more scar on Syria’s future.
    “When will the world’s revulsion at such barbarity be matched by insistence that this must stop?”
  • 22 schoolchildren, 6 teachers killed in attack in Syria’s Idlib province – reports - RT, October 27, 2016
  • Air strikes kill school children in Syria's Idlib - Al Jazeera, October 27, 2016
    At least 26 civilians, including children, were killed when air raids hit a school and the surrounding area in Syria's northwestern Idlib province, a monitoring group said.
    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Wednesday that the bombing was believed to be carried out by Russian planes and targeted the village of Hass, including the school complex. "The dead children are students and the planes are believed to be Russian," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based SOHR, which relies on a network of informants in Syria to track the war.
    The raids hit the village around 11:30am (08:30 GMT), an opposition activist with the Idlib Media Centre, told the AFP news agency. "One rocket hit the entrance of the school as students were leaving to go home, after the school administration decided to end classes for the day because of the raids," the activist said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
  • Horrific Photographs Show Aftermath Of An Airstrike On A School In Syria - BuzzFeed News, October 27, 2016
    Abd, who did not want his second name used, was near the village when the airstrike occurred. He told BuzzFeed News, via a messaging service, that when he got there it was “horrible.” “There was blood and damage everywhere,” he said. Abd, who was studying at university before the war, also visited the school, which he said had been hit just as the school day was finishing — and reduced to nothing. “It [the airstrike] was for killing the children only,” he claimed.
    He described seeing members of the White Helmets, a voluntary rescue organisation working in rebel-held areas of Syria, trying to pull someone out from underneath a destroyed house. “Many mothers are still trying to find their children,” said Yasser Trraf, a 22-year old activist from the village. “We don’t have any armed group in this village, we only have organizations to support children and refugees and schools.”

News sources

Western

  • Syria airstrikes hit outside school as children gathered, killing 17 - AP, New York Daily News, October 26, 2016
    BEIRUT — Syrian activists say that airstrikes outside a school in the northern, rebel-held province of Idlib have killed 17 people, mostly children.
    The Idlib News network says the airstrikes hit as the children gathered outside a school complex in the village of Hass, in northern Idlib, on Wednesday.
  • Arutz Sheva - October 28
    Air strikes that hit a school in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province on Wednesday killed 22 children and six teachers.
    Local groups said the air strikes were carried out by warplanes that were either Russia or Syrian.
    UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon demanded an immediate probe into the attack which he said "may amount to a war crime".
  • Russia or Syria was behind deadly Idlib school attack, says US - Kareem Shaheen in Beirut and agencies, The Guardian, October 27, 2016
    “We don’t know yet that it was the Assad regime or the Russians that carried out the airstrike, but we know it was one of the two,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. “Even if it was the Assad regime that carried it out, the Assad regime is only in a position to carry out those kind of attacks because they are supported by the Russian government.”
  • Eyewitnesses Reveal Horrors of Syria School Attack - ABC Radio, October 27, 2016 (mirror)
    (HAAS, Syria) -- A fourth-grade girl known for her intelligence and who was her parents' only child was among more than three dozen people, including 15 children, killed by airstrikes in a school compound in Syria on Wednesday.
    The parents of the girl, Bisan Khaled al-Farahat, had trouble conceiving and tried for years before she was born, residents of the village of Haas south of Idlib told ABC News.
    "The whole neighborhood knows her, and we were all very affected when we learned of her death," Ayham Abdullah Alsheekh, a local resident who knows the family, told ABC News. "She was very clever. She was maybe 10 years old, but mentally much older. Everyone liked her and she was spoiled."
  • SNHR report, Oct. 29
The report says that at 10:52 approximately, two “SU22” fixed-wing government forces warplanes targeted the southern neighborhood in Hass village where the Martyr Kamal Qal’aji school complex is located. The complex contains three schools. The bombing lasted for 20 minutes during which the warplanes dropped no less than nine missiles carried by parachutes.
The report documents the killing of 38 civilians including 18 children and six women. Among the victims were four members of the teaching staff and 14 students.

Pro-Syrian

  • School in Syria’s Idlib province not hit by airstrike, drone photos show – Russian MoD- RT, October 27, 2016
    Includes RU MoD response, and an interview with former Pentagon official Michael Maloof.
    The Russians took drone footage after the news broke, and decided it shows some damage, as site photos do, but the images and/or video might be misleadingly edited, and the damage seen is too small and not enough to the roofs to have been an airstrike.
    Later the same day, Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF, called the incident a “tragedy” and an “outrage,” and said that “if deliberate” it amounted to a “war crime.”
    “Our evidence points to UNICEF falling victim to another scam from the White Helmet fraudsters. Before making resonant statements, UNICEF should check its sources more carefully, to protect the reputation of the respected organization,” continued Konashenkov.

Video

Original uploads
Compilations

Unclear what video RU MOD describes.

Twitter

Victims

Zaher Sahloul ‏@sahloul on Twitter:
Bisan is 7 years old. She was killed yesterday in the #Russian bombing of her school in #Idlib. No justice is expected! #StandWithAleppo
  • List of 30 names in Arabic published by Zaher Sahloul ‏@sahloul on Twitter: part 1, part 2

VDC Records

The opposition VDC records 38 Idlib civilians killed Oct. 26 by airstrikes, all from or killed in Has, with bombing blamed on "Syrian government and affiliated militias." Notes: "Due to the regime air forces' "sukhoi" shelling with missiles loaded with a parachute." breakdown: 10 girls, 6 women, 5 boys, 6 unidentified (perhaps fragments, gender unclear/unknown, listed as men, meaning blank), 11 identified men. Some parents and children, apparent siblings, male and female teacher with the same family name, etc.

Analysis

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch interviewed by phone seven witnesses to the attack, analyzed several videos posted by opposition groups and news sites, and interviewed one of the videographers. “There were so many torn bodies on the ground,” he said. “And schoolbooks mixed with blood.”
“The Human Rights Watch publication of yet another accusation of a ‘war crime,’ which comes more than a week [after the incident] and contains some phone ‘interviews’ with seven victims as new ‘evidence,’ does not hold up to criticism and is just another information attack,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement on Monday.