An international rights organization released a report Wednesday that said Syrian children were being recruited by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime as well as the armed opposition to fight on the front lines.
The UK-based Save the Children organization said the children – under the age of 18 – were not only used in combat but also as human shields and informants.
Ibrahim Homsi, 17, told Al Arabiya he joined the rebel Free Syrian Army in 2012 after Assad forces killed his brother.
“I took up arms because we were [forced] to evacuate our houses,” he said. “Shabbiha [Assad thugs] entered our houses, killed my brother, killed my neighbors and arrested our women.”
“I’ve been away from my family for one whole year. I’m now in the Homs suburbs.”
Homsi said he was trained for two months before he was able to fight with the armed rebels and did not feel like he was too young to do so.
“I am doing this for God,” he told Al Arabiya. “What pushed me to join the Free Syrian Army is because they’re fighting for their people and their religion.”
Ibrahim, whose school was allegedly struck by Assad’s forces in Homs’ Baba Amro district, also said that he wants to get back to his education.
“I want Bashar al-Assad to leave and be able to avenge the blood of the martyrs and then go back to school. After the fall of the regime, I will go back.”
At least 2 million children in the war-torn country face malnutrition, severe trauma, early marriage and various diseases, the Save the Children report said.