Several people were murdered in the town of al-Suqaylabiyah Sunday in what is believed to be a targeted attack against Christians.
The Associated Press reports that five children ranging from ages six to ten, and one woman were killed near a monastery during an assault on the town.
"The kids went out to play after some days of calm," Father Maher Haddad, a local priest, told The Associated Press. The report continued, "A rocket struck near a group of children, instantly killing five and wounding others… the woman was killed in a nearby street by a separate rocket."
Eight others were wounded in the attack.
AP reports that Syrian rebels were responsible for the attack. Syrian troops retaliated by firing shells toward insurgents on the southern edge of Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold in the civil war-torn country.
Idlib has been rocked by an increase in violence since April 30. Syrian troops have been on the offensive for days and have repeatedly launched airstrikes against rebel forces there.
The province is home to some 3 million people, but the constant fighting between Syrian government forces and the rebels has forced 150,000 people to flee.
Claire Evans, International Christian Concern's Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, "The Syrian Civil War is a sad example of the indiscriminate killing of civilians and senseless violence. As the situation escalates in Idlib, many have warned that an increase of targeted massacres would be the result. It has started—with Christians paying a high cost as they are often viewed as vulnerable, second-class citizens. Their villages have become a pawn in a greater strategy for the multiple factions involved in the civil war. We must keep the families of the deceased in our prayers, and offer up continued prayers for the safety of those believers who find themselves caught between Syria's warring sides."