On the evening of March 19th 2018, air strikes hit an underground school in Arbin, Eastern Ghouta, where civilians had been hiding to escape the bombings. At least 15 children and two women were killed in the attack, which left a further 50 wounded.
The air strikes were reported to have been carried out by Russian planes.
It was reported that three missiles hit the underground school, which is in an area controlled by the Faylaq al-Rahman rebel group. A pro-opposition website also reported 20 civilian deaths on Monday from another attack which saw missiles hit underground shelters.
Over the weekend incendiary weapons were also reported to have been used in civilian areas in Eastern Ghouta.
Last month, as bombardment on Eastern Ghouta intensified, Action on Armed Violence saw reported civilian casualty figures from explosive weapon use in Syria increase by 133% compared to the previous month. The number of civilian casualties reported (2,498) was also more than double the average monthly casualty figure from 2017.
Our latest data shows that in the first 11 months of 2017 there was a 42% increase in civilian deaths from explosive violence globally, compared to the same period in 2016.
Of the total civilian deaths recorded (15,399), 58% were caused by airstrikes, mainly in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Civilian deaths from airstrikes in this 11-month period was 8,932 – an increase of 82% compared to the same period in 2016 when 4,902 civilians were killed, or 1,169% compared to 2011, when 704 died.
Syria was the worst impacted country and civilian deaths in Syria increased by 55%, compared to the same period the previous year.
AOAV strongly condemns the use of violence against civilians and calls upon all states and groups to stop using weapons with wide-area impacts in populated areas, due to the severe impact these have on civilians.
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