The United Nations children’s fund, UNICEF, has issued a “blank statement” to graphically express its outrage at mass casualties among children in the latest bloody development in the Syrian conflict.
An estimated 250 people are reported dead after two days of bombing by Syria’s government on the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta province.
“No words will do justice to the children killed, their mothers, their fathers and their loved ones,” a release from UNICEF regional director Geert Cappalaere began.
“UNICEF is issuing this blank statement. We no longer have the words to describe children’s suffering and our outrage,” it said.
“Do those inflicting the suffering still have words to justify their barbaric acts?”
The targeted Eastern Ghouta suburbs have been subjected to a weeks-long bombardment that has killed and wounded hundreds of people.
Monday’s bombardment that killed nearly 100 people saw the use of warplanes, helicopter gunships, missiles, as well as artillery.
Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad have been besieging almost 400,000 civilians trapped inside Eastern Ghouta for years, but the siege has tightened this year and attacks on the enclave have intensified.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was the last two days have bee the deadliest in the area since 2015. Some 20 children and 15 women were among those killed.
Retaliatory shells rained down on Damascus, killing at least eight people and causing panic among residents of the Syrian capital, seat of President Assad’s power.
Syrian state TV reported from Damascus to show what it called the people’s “steadfastness”, despite the shelling. The TV reporter claimed the city’s residents had expressed hope that the Syrian army would retake Eastern Ghouta.
But Army of Islam official Mohammed Alloush and Nasr al-Hariri, who heads the committee that represents the Syrian opposition, described what is happening in eastern Ghouta as a new “Holocaust” committed by the government and its backers Iran and Russia.
The deaths came as scores of pro-government gunmen began entering the northern Kurdish enclave of Afrin.
Turkish troops shelled the areas shortly after the fighters entered the area, forcing journalists to flee. Turkish state media reported the pro-government forces then fell back 10km from Afrin city.