More than 11,000 Syria children killed in conflict, report finds

Oxford Research Group research says 389 killed by snipers and 100 from torture

Syrian refugees try to enter a reception center in Gaziantep, Turkey over the weekend.  Nearly three years of civil war in Syria have created what is being described as the most challenging refugee crisis in a generation. Photograph: New York Times.

Syrian refugees try to enter a reception center in Gaziantep, Turkey over the weekend. Nearly three years of civil war in Syria have created what is being described as the most challenging refugee crisis in a generation. Photograph: New York Times.

 

More than 11,000 children have been killed in Syria’s three-year civil war, including hundreds targeted by snipers, according to a new report.

Summary executions and torture have also been used against children as young as one, the London-based Oxford Research Group think tank found.

The report based its findings on the databases of four Syrian organizations that seek to document the war.

It says the majority of children have been killed by bombs or shells in their own neighbourhoods.

The report: Stolen Futures - the Hidden Toll of Child Casualties in Syria, examined data from the start of the conflict in March 2011 to August 2013.

Of the 11,420 victims it identified aged 17 and under, some 389 were killed by snipers.

Some 764 were summarily executed, and more than 100 - including infants - were tortured, the report claimed.

Boys outnumbered girls among the dead by around two to one. Boys aged 13 to 17 were most likely to be victims of targeted killings, the report says.

The highest number of child deaths occurred in Aleppo, where 2,223 were reported killed.

But not everyone agrees with its findings. Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said many of its numbers appeared to be high.

His organization, which was not cited in the report, has documented the deaths of only 6,490 children as of mid-November, including only about 20 who had been tortured.

He said any documentation of deaths in Syria must navigate efforts by both sides to exaggerate their enemies’ crimes and whitewash their own.

“Now in Syria we have a huge problem with propaganda, both from the Syrian regime and from the rebels,” he said.

The conflict in Syria has had a “catastrophic effect” on children in Syria, the report says. It calls for all sides to refrain from targeting civilians and buildings such as schools, hospitals and places of worship.

It also calls for access and protection for journalists and others contributing to the recording of casualties.

More than 100,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the conflict and approximately two million Syrians have fled the country.

Agencies