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Dublin: 14 °C Tuesday 23 September, 2014

Syrian children return to school for first time in a year

Children in the rural village of Madaya went back to school last week. Here are the first photos of them in class, playing football and making do.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

DESPITE THE ONGOING conflict around them, Syrian children returned to schools across the country over the past two weeks.

In these photos, released by the Associated Press today, the pupils of a rural school in Madaya, a village in the Idlib province, look happy to be back in the classroom.

According to reports, the pupils began learning numbers in English and took part in other basic lessons.

The opposition-held village in northern Syria has seen numerous battles between rebel forces and troops loyal to President Bashar Assad over the past two-and-a-half years.

The school had been forced to close its doors because of the violence.

“We go to school in fear,” 12-year-old Abdo al-Fikri told AP reporters. “They shell us with rockets, airplanes and missiles.”

About 200 of his classmates returned last week as the village tries to get back to some semblance of normality. However, his father says his son will eventually leave school and fight for the rebels against Assad’s army if the war continues.

But that is not his wish. Before heading out to play football with his cousins, he told the reporter that he does not want to fight. He wants to be a doctor.

Syrian children return to school for first time in a year
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  • Returning to School in Syria

    On Sunday, the brother of Ahmed al-Fikri sits with his son and daughter at his brother's family house in Madaya village. Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Returning to School in Syria

    Twelve-year-old Abdo al-Fikri, left, arrives to schoolSource: AP/Press Association Images
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    Children sit in front of their family's house in Madaya village.Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Returning to School in Syria

    Syrian children play football outside their homes in Madaya villageSource: AP/Press Association Images
  • Returning to School in Syria

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Returning to School in Syria

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Returning to School in Syria

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Returning to School in Syria

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Returning to School in Syria

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Returning to School in Syria

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Returning to School in Syria

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Returning to School in Syria

    A Syrian teacher leads a class on Thursday. Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Returning to School in Syria

    Syrian children pose for a portrait in their classroom.Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Returning to School in Syria

    A Syrian girl looks out of a window on Thursday.Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Returning to School in Syria

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Returning to School in Syria

    Ahmed al-Fikri helps his 12-year-old son Abdo al-Fikri with his homework at their family house in Madaya villageSource: AP/Press Association Images
  • Returning to School in Syria

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Returning to School in Syria

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Returning to School in Syria

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Returning to School in Syria

    Syrian children attend class at the public school in Madaya village on Thursday.Source: AP/Press Association Images

UNICEF has said that about 4,000 Syrian schools have been damaged, destroyed or are being used as shelter since the outbreak of the conflict in March 2011.

Column: Full, unimpeded access for all doctors is immediately needed in Syria

Related: Inspectors prepare to destroy chemical weapons

Explainer: What are Irish troops doing in Syria?

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