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Syrian Children Are Being Killed, Tortured And Used As Shields, U.N. Says

A Syrian boy sits in the rubble of house destroyed during a military operation in April in the town of Taftanaz, Syria.
A Syrian boy sits in the rubble of house destroyed during a military operation in April in the town of Taftanaz, Syria.

After more than a year's worth of appalling news about atrocities in Syria as President Bashar Assad's regime cracks down on dissent, now there's this:

"New crises have caused enormous suffering for children and continue in 2012. In Syria, children were victims of killing and maiming, arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and ill-treatment, including sexual violence, by the Syrian Armed Forces, the intelligence forces, and the Shabbiha militia.

"Children between 8 and 13 were forcibly taken from their homes and used by soldiers as human shields, placing them in front of the windows of buses carrying military personnel into the raid on villages. Schools have been regularly raided, used as military bases and detention centres. In detention, girls and boys were beaten, blindfolded, subjected to stress positions and to electrical shocks, as well as whipped with heavy electrical cables."

That's one passage in a new statement from the United Nations about its annual report on "Children and Armed Conflict."

In the statement, Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy has this to say to Syria's leaders: "The world is keeping a detailed account of the violence committed against civilians in Syria and I am confident that these crimes will not go unpunished."

The report singles out "government forces, including the Syrian Armed Forces, the intelligence forces and the Shabbiha militia," as being responsible for the abuses of children.

Other countries and parties involved in armed conflicts where the U.N. says crimes are being committed against children:

-- Afghanistan

-- Central African Republic

-- Chad

-- Colombia

-- Côte d'Ivoire

-- Democratic Republic of the Congo

-- India

-- Iraq

-- Lebanon

-- Libya

-- The Lord's Resistance Army and the Central African region (the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and Uganda)

-- Myanmar (also known as Burma)

-- Nepal

-- "Occupied Palestinian Territory" and Israel

-- Pakistan

-- Philippines

-- Somalia

-- South Sudan

-- Sri Lanka

-- Sudan

-- Thailand

-- Yemen

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NPR's Deborah Amos, reporting from Damascus

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.