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UN chief demands probe into air strikes that killed 22 Syrian school children

With the international community blaming Russia and Syria for conducting the strikes, Moscow dismissed the allegations calling then a ''lie". Photograph: (AFP)

WION United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY, United States Oct 28, 2016, 01.24 AM (IST)

Appalled by the air strike that killed 22 Syrian school children in Aleppo on Wednesday, the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon called for "an immediate and impartial investigation" and an end to "such horrific acts", his spokesman said on Thursday. 

"If deliberate, this attack may amount to a war crime," Ban said in a statement from his spokesman. He also raised concerns about a series of attacks on civilian targets in Syria, now in its sixth year of war. 

"If such horrific acts persist despite global outrage, it is largely because their authors, whether in corridors of power or in insurgent redoubts, do not fear justice," he said. "They must be proved wrong."

Former British prime minister Gordon Brown, who is the UN envoy for global education, earlier called on the Security Council to ask the ICC prosecutor to open up an investigation of the attack, describing it as a war crime.

The human rights observers in Syria said "either Russian or Syrian warplanes were responsible for the six air strikes" on Wednesday in the village in rebel-held Idlib province, which also hit the school complex. UNICEF said the compound had been "repeatedly attacked".

But Moscow denied any involvement in the strikes, saying it had vowed to maintain a moratorium on strikes in the region. 

"The Russian Federation has nothing to do with this terrible tragedy, with this attack," foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, adding that Moscow demanded an immediate investigation.

(WION with inputs from agencies)

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