Idlib (Syria), Aug 12: At least 39 civilians were on Sunday killed in blast at a weapons depot in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib. The 39 civilians also include 12 children. The explosion, reported at a residential building at the rebel-held town of Sarmada, caused two buildings to collapse, a news agency reported.

Rescue operations are underway and a bulldozer is being used to remove rubble and rescue trapped people. Dozens are said to be missing and the death toll is expected to rise. The cause of the blast isn’t known yet.

The weapons depot blast has been reported a few days after a United Nations report said that over 7,000 children have been killed or injured in Syria’s seven-year war and cited unverified reports putting the number “way beyond 20,000”.

In early 2014, the UN admitted it had stopped officially counting deaths in Syria as it could no longer rely on its own data. “Every year since then, there has been a tremendous increase in all grave violations committed by all parties to the conflict,” Gamba said.

“I am deeply disturbed by the stories of children born and raised throughout this conflict, children who have never seen peace in Syria,” said Virginia Gamba who addressed the Security Council on Friday.

“Children who have suffered repeatedly of all types of violations in their homes, communities, schools, detention centres and in refugee and IDP settings. We must think that these children are in severe psychosocial distress. They do not know the meaning of the word ‘peace,'” she said.

With agency inputs