More than 11,000 children killed in Syrian civil war: study

AFP-JIJI

More than 11,000 children have died in Syria’s civil war, including 128 killed by chemical weapons in a notorious attack and hundreds targeted by snipers, a British think tank said Sunday.

The Oxford Research Group, which specializes in global security, said in a new study that there were 11,420 recorded deaths of children aged 17 years and under.

The report, entitled “Stolen Futures: The hidden toll of child casualties in Syria,” analyzes data from the beginning of the conflict in March 2011 until August 2013.

The think tank added that, of the 10,586 children whose cause of death was recorded, 128 were killed by chemical weapons in Ghouta, a Damascus suburb, on Aug. 21 in an attack that the United States and other world powers blamed on the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Syria has since agreed to destroy its entire chemical weapons arsenal as part of a deal to head off U.S. military strikes.

The think tank added Sunday that 764 children were summarily executed and 389 were killed by sniper fire in the conflict.

Explosive weapons have caused more than 70 percent of the child deaths, while small arms fire accounts for more than a quarter, according to the study.

“What is most disturbing about the findings of this report is not only the sheer numbers of children killed in this conflict, but the way they are being killed,” said report co-author Hamit Dardagan.

“Bombed in their homes, in their communities, during day-to-day activities such as waiting in bread lines or attending school; shot by bullets in crossfire, targeted by snipers, summarily executed, even gassed and tortured.

“All conflict parties need to take responsibility for the protection of children, and ultimately find a peaceful solution for the war itself.”

Oxford Research Group added that the number of boys killed outnumbered girls killed by a ratio of about 2-to-1.

Those children in older age groups were targeted more often than younger children. Boys between the ages of 13-17 years old were the most frequent victims of targeted killings.

“The data we analyzed indicates that bombs and bullets alone ended the lives of 10,000 Syrian children in 30 months of war,” added Dardagan.

“The world needs to take a much closer interest in the effects of the conflict on Syria’s children.”