More than 11,000 children have been killed in Syria since the conflict there began over two and a half years ago, many of them summarily executed or targeted by snipers, a UK-based think tank said in a report published on Sunday.
The Oxford Research Group study, which called on all sides in the conflict to stop targeting children, said seven out of 10 of the children killed in the war had lost their lives in shell fire, by aerial bombardment or by improvised explosive devices.
One in four children had been killed by small arms fire, with almost 800 executed and almost 400 targeted by snipers. Over 100, including some of infant age, were reported to have been tortured.
The United Nations puts the overall death toll in Syria at more than 100,000 dead.
“One of the most disturbing things about this is that the evidence shows that children being killed by bullets are being deliberately killed,” said Hamit Dardagan, one of the report’s co-authors. “They are not being killed in cross-fire.”
The report is the first of its kind to break down headline fatality statistics to build up a picture of how children have died in the conflict between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition.
It was released as fierce fighting to the east of Damascus was reported to have killed more than 160 people in the past two days as rebels struggle to break a months-long blockade.
Dardagan said the report’s findings showed how pervasive the war had become and how innocents were getting caught up in it.
“The headline figure of over 11,000 deaths will change but the pattern of killing won’t,” he said.
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