Five children were killed Monday in a mortar attack on a Christian primary school in Damascus.

The attack, which also wounded 27 others, was on the St. John Damascene primary school in the district of Al-Qassaa in Damascus, Fides reports.

Another rocket hit a school bus in Bab Touma, a predominantly Christian suburb, injuring 5 students. In the same area, a mortar shell hit St. Cross Church, already targeted in recent days, and another damaged St. Cyril Church. Three other people were killed by a rocket, also in the center of the capital.

Addressing pilgrims in St. Peter's Square Wednesday, Pope Francis said he heard the news "with deep sorrow".

"Let us pray that these tragedies do not occur! In these days we are praying and uniting our forces to help our brothers and sisters struck by the typhoon in the Philippines. These are the true battles to fight. For life! Never for death!," he said. 

The attacks follow a mortar strike on the Apostolic Nunciature Nov. 5, and a further rocket attack on Sunday that killed a Christian man with his four children.

For days, the historical center and the most modern part of the center of Damascus have been the target of a large number of mortar shells by armed rebels.

These neighborhoods are “affected indiscriminately, just because they are the areas under the regular army control and the civilian population pay the price,” a Damascus priest told Fides.

He said the suburbs, such as Jaramana, Kassaa, Malki of Damascus are being targeted “that are the most pluralistic, inhabited by people of different ethnicity and religion".

Fr. Gabriel Dawood, a Syriac Orthodox priest of the Cathedral of St. George in Damascus, told Fides that "in our churches we continue to hope and to light candles, praying for all the faithful killed, and for those at risk, especially for the Christian villages threatened by armed gangs".


Source: Fides