EI has been shocked to learn that at least 30 Syrian children have been killed in a double bombing by a suicide attacker at a school in the government-controlled city of Homs.
The young pupils, who were between six and nine years old, were among 39 people who died in the attack in the Akrameh neighbourhood, according to the Director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but Al-Qaeda's branch in Syria, Al-Nusra Front, said that it was behind a similar twin bombing in the city that killed at least 12 people in May.
Homs’ Governor, Talal al-Barazi, also reported the deadly attacks, giving a toll of 31 killed and 74 wounded.
Highest death toll for children
The toll is among the highest for children in suicide attacks across Syria since the conflict erupted in the country three years ago.
The Homs' Akrameh district has been targeted more than once before, including on 19 June 2014, when at least six people were killed in a car bomb attack.
Homs was once dubbed “the capital of the revolution” against President Bashar al-Assad. Most of the city has returned to regime control after two years of bombardment and siege.
EI: Schools must be safe havens
“We are very sad to learn about this terrible news, and offer our sincere condolences to the families of the victims of this bombing,” said EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen. “Education is recognised as a fundamental right no matter what the circumstances, and so the utmost must be done to protect schools and children's right to education.”
EI urges governments, in Syria and the world over, to ensure that schools and teaching and learning premises remain a safe haven at all times, including during armed conflicts.