BEIRUT: More than 17,000 children have been killed by Syrian regime forces since the war began in March 2011, according to a new report.

Of those, 518 were killed by sniper fire, and at least 95 tortured to death. A further 280,000 children have been wounded and 9,500 arrested by the authorities.

The authors of the report, “Children of Syria, a Lost Dream,” issued by the Syrian Network for Human Rights, an anti-regime group based in Spain, recorded the names and photographs of 17,268 children killed, and where, how and when they died.

Aside from sniper fire and torture, many more children have been killed in indiscriminate airstrikes, under barrel bomb bombardment, in chemical weapons attacks, and in massacres, the report says.
On Jan. 16, a missile fell on the home of Moaed and Hekmat al-Assad, 7 and 5 years old respectively, in Damascus’ suburbs.

“I was at home with my seven sons when we heard the sound of the warplane, which has become familiar,” their mother told the authors of the report. Her husband is in prison.

“My son Moaed screamed and told everyone to lie on the ground. Our house was targeted with a missile and destroyed completely.”

After fainting, “I woke up calling my children but Moaed and Hekmat never answered me. I have never been able to see their dead bodies, they are now only body parts.”

The report says sons are often detained alongside their fathers, in an attempt to get information from the adults, as they are “forced to watch his son being tortured.”

Mohammad, 15, is from a family widely known to be sympathetic to the opposition. When he was stopped at a regime checkpoint outside of Homs in November 2012, two soldiers took him aside and raped him.

“I was molested and raped by soldiers affiliated to the Military Security branch. I feel ashamed and insulted every time I remember the story.”

Baraa al-Agha, head of reports at SNHR, said, “No one can even start to imagine what will become of the Syrian children in the future.”

“We are losing an entire generation. The process of rehabilitating the children of Syria must commence now, especially orphans and disabled children.”

At least 18,273 Syrian children have lost their fathers in the nearly four years of war, and 4,573 have lost their mothers.

The report blames rebel groups for the deaths of at least 304 children, and the jihadi group ISIS for another 37.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 22, 2014, on page 8.