#AceNewsServices says a new report by United Nations investigators asserts that children in Syria are not only actively recruited to fight with the opposition but are also tortured and used as civilian shields by the rebels.
The report, the first to assess the impact of the nearly three-year-old Syria war on children, was quietly presented to the Security Council last week, as Syrian government and opposition representatives met in Switzerland for peace talks under the auspices of the United Nations.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s special representative for children and armed conflict, Leila Zerrougui, is scheduled to brief the Council next week on the report, which was not released publicly until Monday.
“The suffering endured by the children in the Syrian Arab Republic since the outset of the conflict, as documented in this report, is unspeakable and unacceptable,” Ban said in the report, dated January 27, which was posted online on Tuesday.
“Ill treatment and acts tantamount to torture reportedly included beatings with metal cables, whips and wooden and metal batons; electric shocks, including to the genitals; the ripping out of fingernails and toenails; sexual violence, including rape or threats of rape; mock executions; cigarette burns; sleep deprivation; solitary confinement; and exposure to the torture of relatives,” the report said.
Notably, the government denies it detains children. In Geneva, Fayssal Mekdad, the deputy foreign minister, said in response to a question last week, the day before the report went to the Security Council: “I categorically deny any children being detained. Those are rumours.”
He accused opposition forces of abducting and killing children.
Investigators were also able to chronicle abuse by opposition forces, including summary executions of children. It received two reports from Hasakah Province, in north-east Syria: a 16-year-old boy fatally shot last April by the Nusra Front, which is aligned with al-Qaeda, and a 14-year-old boy killed by a Kurdish group.
The Syrian government told United Nations investigators that at least 130 children had been killed by opposition forces.
The report said the Free Syrian Army, the main opposition force, had recruited children in military and support roles. While there seemed to be no policy of doing so, the report said, there were no age verification procedures.
“Many boys stated that they felt it was their duty to join the opposition,” the report said.
A loose alliance of moderate rebel groups form the Free Syrian Army, which is run by the Supreme Military Command. Western and Arab powers have tried to build it into a force to topple President Bashar al-Assad, but the group has lost the support of rebel brigades to an Islamist alliance.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar have backed the Supreme Military Command with weapons, training, money and intelligence, while the United States and Britain have given non-lethal aid, such as like communications and transportation equipment.
The United States and Britain suspended non-lethal aid to northern Syria in December after reports that Islamist fighters seized Western-backed rebel weapons warehouses, highlighting fears that supplies could end up in hostile hands.
But the United States is supplying light arms to moderate Syrian rebel factions in the south of the country and U.S. funding for months of further deliveries has been approved by Congress, according to security officials.
Courtesy of: Voice of Russia, AFP, Reuters