Child soldiers.. a Syrian generation at risk

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Syrian children receive training by militants of the Islamic State in southern Damascus. File photo

ARA News

Qamishli, Syria – The emergence of child soldiers was considered one of the main consequences of the armed conflict in Syria over the past four years. 

During the conflict, many opposition and pro-regime military forces emerged, and the most vigorous phenomenon was the sudden emergence of the Islamic State group (IS/ISIS) in both Iraq and Syria in the second half of the Syrian crisis.  

The emergence of these groups and the conflicting parties’ dire need for fighters, led many groups to recruit civilians in their ranks, including children.

The IS hardline group recruited the majority of children in its ranks compared to other military factions who used to accept underage civilians in their ranks.

The UNICEF announced Friday that the rise of brutality militant groups and the proliferation of conflicts expose more children to the risk of recruitment by the armed factions. 

“The remarkable advancement of the Islamic State group (IS/ISIS) in both Syria and Iraq, and the increasing numbers of armed groups, put more children at risk,” the UNICEF reported, referring to the exposure of 12-year-old boys to military training. 

“Many boys are used as intelligence agents, and guards on military checkpoints. Sometimes they are used as suicide attackers and even used as implementers of execution sentences,” according to the UNICEF. 

The report also noted UNICEF’s efforts to support children once demobilized by armed groups, including assistance to organize family reunification, the provision of health care and psychological support, in addition to providing access to education and training programs. 

Commenting on the UNICEF’s report, human rights activist Rudi Ali told ARA News: “All children must be demobilized from the armed groups immediately without any delay; we should help the children caught in war.”

“We must also work to ensure ways to keep children away from the fighting frontlines, such as providing education and economic support,” Ali stressed, adding that keeping children away from war conditions is necessary for the future of their communities. 

Over the past four years, many UN and human rights reports indicated the increasing numbers of child soldiers in various areas of the war-torn Syria.

 

Reporting by: Dilshad Muhammad

Source: ARA News

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