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U.N. report details ‘unspeakable suffering’ of Syrian children

The report found that children were beaten and were subjected to their finger nails being ripped out

Published: Updated:

Syrian children have been subjected to rape, torture and have been as human shields in combat, a new U.N. report shows.

Covering the period from March 2011 to November 2013, the report found that children were beaten with whips, batons and metal cables and were subjected to their finger nails being ripped out and electric shocks, including to the genital area. The U.N. reports that some children witnessed the torture of relatives and mock executions.

Sexual violence, including rape and the threat of rape, was reportedly used to “humiliate, harm and force confessions.” The report highlights the case of a 16-year-old who was arrested at a checkpoint near his school and detained by intelligence forces. He allegedly witnessed the sexual assault of his 14-year old male friend who was then killed.

Allegations of sexual assaults carried out by opposition groups were also received, however, the U.N. said it was unable to investigate those allegations given the “lack of access.”

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said: “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.”

In the report, the U.N. accuses both sides of the conflict of committing “grave violations” against children.

Known perpetrators of attacks on children, singled out by the report, include the Syrian Armed Forces, Syrian intelligence forces, Air Force Intelligence, the National Security Bureau, the Political Security Directorate and the General Intelligence Directorate.

Although the U.N. could not confirm the recruitments of children as combatants by government forces, it did say that government troops had arrested and detained children and, in some cases, used them as human shields in combat. Meanwhile, opposition groups have recruited and used children in combat, the report stated.

“Of particular concern were cases of recruitment or attempted recruitment of children within refugee populations in neighboring countries, “ Ban added. “ The majority of incidents were related to recruitment by Free Syrian Army-affiliated groups or Syrian Kurdish armed groups.”

Since March 2011, more than 100,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict, including more than 10,000 children, according to the United Nations.