U.N. report slams regime, rebel forces for the "unspeakable suffering" of Syrian children
A new United Nations report has slammed both sides warring in Syria for the abuse and distress they have inflicted upon children during the nearly three-year-old conflict.
The report, which details the treatment of children in the Syrian conflict, said that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad have tortured, maimed and sexually abused children, whilst rebel fighters have recruited the young for combat, the Associated Press reported.
The report details the treatment of children from the onset of the uprising against Assad in March 2011 until mid-November 2013 and was released to the U.N. Security Council this week and posted to the organization’s website on Tuesday.
The report quotes U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as saying during the crisis, Syrian children have been subjected to "unspeakable suffering," as he urged both conflicting sides to "take, without delay, all measures to protect and uphold the rights of all children in Syria," AP reported.
Children as young as 11 have been arrested and detained by Syrian government forces on suspicion of being allied with rebel groups, the report said, adding that the regime is responsible for the arbitrary detention, ill treatment and torture of children.
According to the report, children who are taken into government custody were subjected to “beatings with metal cables, whips and wooden and metal batons, electric shock and sexual violence, including rape or threats of rape, mock executions, cigarette burns, sleep deprivation and solitary confinement”.
The report did not specify how they obtained the information quoted in the report, according to AP.
The U.N.’s report also mentioned allegations of sexual violence perpetrated by opposition groups, but due to a lack of access to areas under rebel control, these claims could not be quantified.
According to AP, the report said that while Assad's forces have been known to use Syrian children as human shields in the conflict, the report also blasted rebels for "recruitment and use of children both in combat and support roles, as well as for conducting military operations."
In the first two years of the Syrian crisis, the majority of the killings and maiming of children was accredited to the regime’s forces, but during the last months of the conflict rebel fighters have increasingly "engaged in such acts," the report said, according to AP.