[QODLink]
Middle East

Report: Syria rebels send children into war

Human Rights Watch says rebel factions have been using child soldiers in roles ranging from sniper to suicide bomber.

Last updated: 23 Jun 2014 11:23
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
HRW based its report on interviews with 25 current and former child soldiers in Syria [AFP]

Syrian rebels have recruited teenagers as young as 15 to fight in the country's civil war, according to a rights group.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said on Monday that rebels have been using child soldiers in roles including soldiers, stretcher bearers and suicide bombers.

The horrors of Syria's armed conflict are only made worse by throwing children into the front lines.

Human Rights Watch

According to the 31-page report, various factions in the country’s compex civil war have recruited minors, including the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, the Islamic Front, the Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Military and police forces in Kurdish-controlled areas have also used teenagers, it said.

"Syrian armed groups should not prey on vulnerable children who have seen their relatives killed, schools shelled, and communities destroyed by enlisting them in their forces," said Priyanka Motaparthy, the author of the report.

"The horrors of Syria's armed conflict are only made worse by throwing children into the front lines."

Former child soldiers interviewed

HRW said the Nusra Front and ISIL have both targeted children through education programmes, which include military training. Teenage former fighters told HRW how commanders encouraged the youths to volunteer for suicide missions.

The rights group also said some opposition groups have moved to end the use of teenage fighters. Syria's main Western-backed political opposition group, the Syrian National Council, and Kurdish officials have both declared their commitment to ending the practice.

HRW, which said the number of children fighting in the conflict is unknown, based its report on interviews with 25 current and former child soldiers in Syria. It said the report does not cover pro-government forces, which are also alleged to have used child fighters.

The reasons young people joined the armed groups varied, according to the report. Some followed family members or friends, while others were already in conflict zones and had no other option.

HRW published a similar report in 2012, saying that children as young as 14 were being recruited.

356

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Frustration grows in Kiev as pledges to end corruption and abuse of power stagnate after Maidan Square protest.
Thousands of Houthi supporters have called for the fall of Yemen's government. But what do the Houthis really want?
New ration reductions and movement restrictions have refugees from Myanmar anxious about their future in Thailand.
US lawyers say poor translations of election materials disenfranchise Native voters.
US drones in Pakistan have killed thousands since 2004. How have leaders defended or decried these deadly planes?
join our mailing list