Inside a school still running on the edge of rebel-held Syria

School still running amid war in Syria

DAMASCUS -- A monitoring group said Syrian warplanes struck several areas in the decimated rebel-held suburbs of Damascus on Friday morning before the fourth daily Russian "humanitarian pause" began. There was no immediate word on casualties in the latest violence, but the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said since President Bashar al-Assad's offensive in the eastern Ghouta suburbs ramped up on Feb. 18, at least 617 people have been killed there, including 149 children.  

There were no indications as the Russian-implemented five-hour "pause" in hostilities began on Friday that it would see any aid supplies cross into eastern Ghouta, or any of the estimated 400,000 civilians trapped there cross out. None of the daily truces have enabled those key objectives to be met thus far.

The United Nations and the U.S. State Department said Thursday that a ceasefire agreed to by the U.N. Security Council -- an agreement which prompted the Russian's to announce the daily "pauses" -- is not working.

On the frontlines of Ghouta, Syrians not getting help

Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Russian backers blame the rebels for the inaction, calling them terrorists and accusing them of using civilians as human shields, all while continuing to fire mortars on government-controlled parts of Damascus just to the west.

CBS News correspondent Seth Doane visited a school on Friday just a couple of miles from rebel-held eastern Ghouta -- putting it dangerously close to the front lines. It has been hit by a mortar already, and 10 more landed just across the street in one day. On Friday, like many days, a number of kids simply didn't show up for class.

Every morning, 1,000 students used to gather in the open, in a courtyard at the school, to recite the national pledge of allegiance. That's when there were that many students -- and when it was safe to stand outside.

Syrian doctor describes "catastrophic" situation in Eastern Ghouta

On Friday morning, classrooms were less than half-full, as frightened parents kept their kids home. Some in the school barely flinched at the sound of shelling.

Seth asked one schoolgirl named Rose Kahlah whether she had got used to the sounds of rockets and mortars.

She nodded in response, and said she and her classmates hear the barrage "every day."

Rose, 10, dreams of studying in Boston to become a doctor. She was just three when the war began. Doane's interview with her kept being interrupted by the sound of warplanes roaring overhead.

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Rose Kahlah, a 10-year-old Syrian girl who lives on the edge of the rebel-held eastern Ghouta suburbs, speaks to CBS News about life near the war zone, March. 2, 2018. CBS

She told CBS News that when she gets scared, she goes into her room and shuts the door, "because I think that bombs are going to hit on us."

Samoa Chammas teaches English at the school -- at least she does when she has students. In one recent class, there was a single girl in attendance.

"It is hard" to focus on education she admits, "but we will go on."

About 10 percent of the students who attend this school fled from other war-torn parts of Syria, but war found them again.

Across Syria, in both government and rebel held areas, schools have been destroyed. So for all of the concerns here, at least this one is still standing.