80 civilians killed by shelling in Syria: UN


At least 80 civilians were killed and many more injured when armed groups shelled those trying to flee violence in Hama, Syria, the UN said Wednesday.

"The UN is deeply alarmed by reports of increased fighting and airstrikes in northwestern central Syria, resulting in death and injury to scores of civilians and damage to critical civilian infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and IDP (internally displaced persons) collective centers," Stephane Dujarric told reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

He said airstrikes Wednesday in rural Idlib completely destroyed a school, while Tuesday, "shelling on people trying to flee Wadi al Azeib in rural Hama resulted in the killing of 80 people".

Dujarric avoided identifying what states or groups were responsible for the attacks.

In a statement Wednesday, main Syrian opposition group the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces blamed the Bashar al-Assad regime for the deaths in Hama, calling on the UN and the international community to hold it accountable.

The regime controls rural Hama and for over a month has prevented 8,000 civilians from leaving the area to cross into an opposition-held zone.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, according to the UN.

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