Syrian forces and “Shabiha” (pro-regime gunmen) have tortured children, sexually attacked them, executed them and used children as young as eight as “human shields” during military raids against rebels, according to the report. Human rights groups estimate that around 1,200 children have died during the 15-month conflict against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.
“In almost all recorded cases, children were among the victims of military operations by government forces, including the Syrian armed forces, the intelligence forces and the shabbiha militia, in their ongoing conflict with the opposition, including the Free Syrian Army,” the report said, according to AP.
“Rarely, have I seen such brutality against children as in Syria, where girls and boys are detained, tortured, executed, and used as human shields,” Radhika Coomaraswamy, U.N. special representative for children in armed conflict, told AFP ahead of the report’s release.
The secretary-general said the United Nations has received reports of “grave violations” against children in Syria since March 2011, with Most child victims of torture described being beaten, blindfolded, subjected to stress positions, whipped with heavy electrical cables, scarred by cigarette burns and in one case subjected to electrical shock to the genitals, the report said, according to AFP.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the United Nations Security Council should impose an arms embargo and other targeted sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, on the Syrian leadership in response to widespread killings and other grave violations against children. Human Rights Watch also reiterated its call to the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and urged other countries to join the calls for accountability by supporting a referral to the ICC as the forum most capable of effectively investigating and prosecuting those bearing the greatest responsibility for abuses in Syria. HRW cited the Syria Violations Documentation Center, a network of Syrian activists, as saying that at least 1,176 children have been killed since February 2011.
Amidst reports violations against children, United Nations observers in Syria expressed yesterday great concern over the escalation of violence in the city of Homs, a Syrian opposition stronghold.
“UN observers reported heavy fighting in Rastan and Talbiseh, north of the city, with artillery and mortar shelling, as well as firing from helicopters, machine guns and smaller arms,” the spokesperson for the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), Sausan Ghosheh, said in a statement .