BEIRUT — Children in Syria have been tortured, sexually abused and subjected to “indiscriminate” attacks by President Bashar Assad’s forces, and recruited for combat and terror operations by the rebels fighting to topple him during the country’s nearly 3-year-old conflict, a new United Nations report said.
The report to the U.N. Security Council by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlights the plight of children in the conflict from the beginning of the uprising against Assad in March 2011 until Nov. 15, 2013.
It was given to the council this week and posted on the U.N. website Tuesday.
Ban said Syrian children have been subjected to “unspeakable and unacceptable” suffering during that time.
“Violations must come to an end now,” he said.
In the early stages, Ban said, violations against children were committed largely by Syria’s armed forces, intelligence forces and allied Shabiha militia but as the conflict intensified and the opposition became more organized, an increasing number of violations committed by Free Syrian Army-affiliated groups were documented.
The report said the “disproportionate and indiscriminate” use of weapons and military tactics by government forces and associated militias “has resulted in countless killings and the maiming of children, and has obstructed children’s access to education and health services.”
Military forces have pounded rebel-controlled areas with airstrikes and artillery and also subjected them to blockades of food and medicine.
According to the report, Syrian forces also are responsible for the arrest, arbitrary detention, ill treatment and torture of children in detention facilities. Children in government custody reportedly suffered beatings with metal cables, whips and wooden and metal batons, electric shock and sexual violence, mock executions, cigarette burns, sleep deprivation and solitary confinement, it said.