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On the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression: 30,228 Children Have Been Documented Killed in Syria Since March 2011, including 199 Who Died Due to Torture, While at least 5,263 Children are Still Under Arrest and/or Forcibly Disappeared

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Press release: (Download the full statement below)

The Hague – The Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) today released a statement to mark the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression, which is observed annually on June 4. In the statement, SNHR noted that it has documented the killing of 30,228 children in Syria since March 2011, including 199 children who died due to torture, while 5,263 children are still under arbitrary arrest and/or forcibly disappeared.

The statement stresses that the Syrian regime has perpetrated the worst forms of aggression against children in Syria as part of the armed conflict, despite having ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). While the other parties to the conflict have also been responsible for such acts of aggression against children, the statement notes, the Syrian regime bears by far the greatest responsibility in terms of the number and comprehensiveness of these crimes which are perpetrated in a manner that exhibits a clear pattern and demonstrates the deliberate and systematic character of the regime’s violations of children’s rights, amounting to crimes against humanity.

As the statement reveals, children have been subjected to almost every atrocity perpetrated against the Syrian people. The terrible effects this had on children have been consistently compounded by the massive scale of the aggression directed against children for over 13 years to date. To make sense of this, this statement provides an update of the toll of most notable serious violations perpetrated against children in Syria between March 2011 and June 2024. The statement notes that 30,228 children have been documented as being killed at the hands of the parties to the conflict and controlling forces in Syria since March 2011. Of these, 23,045 children, divided between 12,976 males and 10,078 females, were killed by Syrian regime forces; while 2,055 children, divided between 1,429 males and 626 females, were killed by Russian forces. Additionally, 959 children, divided between 565 males and 394 females, were killed at the hands of ISIS; while Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has killed 76 children divided between 69 males and seven females. As for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the group has killed 269 children to date, divided between 165 males and 104 females; while all armed opposition factions are responsible for the deaths of 1,009 children, divided between 571 males and 438 females. Meanwhile, the US-led International Coalition forces killed 926 children, divided between 623 males and 303 females. Lastly, a total of 1,889 children, divided between 1,308 males and 581 females, were killed by other parties.

In regard to arbitrary arrest/detention and enforced disappearance, the statement notes that at least 5,263 children arrested by the parties to the conflict and controlling forces since March 2011 are still under arrest and/or forcibly disappeared, with the majority of these – 3,698 children – detained by Syrian regime forces. The remaining children arrested/forcibly disappeared are distributed by the arresting party as follows: 319 children by ISIS, 47 by HTS, 834 by the SDF, and 365 by all armed opposition factions.

The statement also stresses that at least 199 children died due to torture at the hands of the parties to the conflict and controlling forces in Syria since March 2011. The Syrian regime is responsible for the deaths of 190 of these children due to torture, while ISIS was responsible for the death of one child due to torture. Additionally, the SDF was responsible for three children’s deaths due to torture, the HTS was responsible for two, all armed opposition factions were responsible for one, and lastly other parties were responsible for the deaths of two children due to torture.

The statement adds that children in Syria have also been subjected to other types of violations. For one, violations by the Syrian regime have led to the widespread displacement of millions of Syrians. Today, northwestern Syria houses the largest number of internally displaced people (IDPs) living in camps, with children accounting for 46 percent or nearly half of the entire population of IDPs. Moreover, children live in extremely dangerous, life-threatening environments, with these dangers caused, for one instance, by the fact that the parties to the conflict have planted hundreds of thousands of anti-personnel landmines (APLs) in Syria, including cluster munitions remnants. These APLs are densely scattered over large swathes of land in multiple areas of many Syrian governorates, posing an ongoing, lethal threat to the lives of civilians, including children, that will last for years to come; these munitions’ bright primary colors attract the attention and curiosity of younger children who are unaware of their lethal nature, and thus face the greatest danger from them.

The statement calls on the international community and the UN Security Council to take every possible legal, political, and financial measure against the Syrian regime and its allies, as well as all other perpetrators of violations in the Syrian conflict, to compel them to respect child rights. It must be reiterated that Syria is the world’s worst country in terms of many types of violations against children, and therefore the situation in Syria requires more humanitarian assistance compared to other states and regions, especially considering that those violations are ongoing to this day.

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