Syrian Children Tortured and Abused During Conflict, UN Report Finds

Children have suffered grave atrocities at the hands of President Bashar Assad's forces during the 3-year conflict in Syria, according to a new U.N. report released this week. Children as young as 11 have been subjected to torture and sexual abuse to extract information or to coerce family members into cooperating. The rebel forces have been found to be recruiting children to fight for them and have engaged in summary executions of children, the disturbing report found. Lack of access to rebel-held areas prevented the U.N. investigators from corroborating allegations of sexual violence among rebel forces.

The report called the children's suffering "unspeakable and unacceptable," detailing some of the methods used against them in government detention facilities.

Ill treatment and acts tantamount to torture reportedly included beatings with metal cables, whips and wooden and metal batons; electric shocks, including to the genitals; the ripping out of fingernails and toenails; sexual violence, including rape or threats of rape; mock executions; cigarette burns; sleep deprivation; solitary confinement; and exposure to the torture of relatives. Reports indicate that children were also suspended from walls or ceilings by their wrists or other limbs, were forced to put their head, neck and legs through a tire while being beaten, and were tied to a board and beaten.

It's estimated that around 10,000 children have been killed since the conflict began in March 2011. During the first two years most of the violence against children was attributed to government forces, but during 2013 opposition forces became increasingly responsible for such acts.

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According to the New York Times, Syria's deputy foreign minister, Fayssal Mekdad, denied that the government detained children and accused rebel forces of child abduction and murder.

The Syrian government is also running behind schedule for destroying its chemical weapons, missing the deadline of giving up its entire inventory. So far, only four percent of Syria's chemical weapons have been surrendered, fueling suggestions that Assad is attempting to conceal his stockpile from the U.N. as an insurance policy.