On the heels of the United Nations increasing its civilian death toll estimate during the year-long conflict in Syria to more than 9,000, many of the dead and injured include a group that hasn't picked up a gun nor a sign of protest: children. While both sides of the uprising have been accused of human rights abuses, according to Al Jazeera, the regime of Bashar Assad now stands accused of explicitly targeting children.
U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said in an interview that she believes Syrian forces have intentionally killed and tortured children. Pillay told the BBC:
They've gone for the children - for whatever purposes - in large numbers. Hundreds detained and tortured...it's just horrendous...children shot in the knees, held together with adults in really inhumane conditions, denied medical treatment for their injuries, either held as hostages or as sources of information.
The BBC report goes on to say the organization has received claims that the opposition Free Syrian Army was using children as fighters, according to Radhika Coomaraswamy, U.N. special representative for children and armed conflict.
WARNING: IMAGES BELOW CONTAIN GRAPHIC CONTENT
Syrian government forces continued their brutal siege Wednesday from the southern province of Deraa to Hama, 200 miles to the north, Reuters notes, despite President Bashar Assad having accepted to a U.N. peace plan on Tuesday. The agreement called for an immediate, two-hour pause in fighting every day to allow for humanitarian aid and plans for a total cease-fire, the Associated Press reports, though diplomats and opposition forces believe the Assad regime has only accepted the measures as a means to stall for time while renewing efforts to quash the opposition.
"We will judge Assad's sincerity and seriousness by what he does, not by what he says," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Though no direct effort has been approached yet, the U.N.'s Navi Pillay believes the U.N. Security Council has enough reliable information to refer the Assad regime to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for its human rights abuses.
"I feel that investigation and prosecution is a crucial element to deter and call a stop to these violations," Pillay told the BBC.
A Syrian child is seen with her family who fled from the Syrian town of Qusair near Homs, at the Lebanese-Syrian border village of Qaa, eastern Lebanon, Monday, March 5, 2012. More than a thousand Syrian refugees have poured across the border into Lebanon, among them families with small children carrying only plastic bags filled with their belongings as they fled a regime hunting down its opponents. (AP)
In this Sunday, March 11, 2012 file photo, a man carries a boy who was severely wounded during heavy fighting between Syrian rebels and Syrian Army forces in Idlib, north Syria. Rebels dashed through the streets, taking cover behind the corners of buildings as they clashed with the troops. Wounded fighters were piled into trucks bound for makeshift clinics. (AP)
In this Sunday, March 11, 2012 file photo, a morgue worker burns a bandage to bind the hands of a boy who died from his wounds during heavy fighting between Syrian rebels and the government forces in Idlib, north Syria. Wounded people, including children and women, crowded into the clinic in bloodstained clothes. Many had clearly been struck by snipers, who shot them through the legs and arms. Shrapnel left many with gaping wounds; many died in their beds. There was no space in the morgue for more corpses, so families immediately arranged to bury the dead. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd, File)
A man holds up a child during a demonstration against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's regime in the outskirts of Idlib, northern Syria, Sunday Feb. 26, 2012. (AP)
6-months old Maher, laughs as the child is placed to pose with a machine gun placed by supporters of the Free Syrian Army, inside a house near Idlib, Syria, Thursday, Feb. 23., 2012. (AP)
In this citizen journalism image provide by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria, a Syrian girl holds her doll as a killed child with a slogan against Syrian President Bashar Assad during a demonstration against the Syrian regime, in the suburb of Daraya, Damascus, Syria, on Sunday Feb. 12, 2012. (AP)
In this image made from amateur video released by Shaam News Network and accessed Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2011, purports to show a dead child being placed on the bonnet of an Arab League vehicle as monitors visit Homs in Syria. (AP)
In this citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, anti-Syrian regime protesters hold up portraits of a Syrian man who killed by the Syrian security forces with Arabic words on the portraits reading "In God's the hero martyr Mohammed Shahoud al-Kadour," as other wave Syrian revolutionary flags during a protest at Maaret Harma village, in Idlib, north Syria, on Friday, March 16, 2012. (AP)
In this citizen journalism image provided by Idlib News Network, anti-Syrian regime protesters wave the Syrian revolutionary flags during a protest at Maaret Harma village, in Idlib, north Syria, on Friday March 16, 2012. (AP)
This image made from amateur video and released by Shaam News Network Thursday, March 8, 2012, purports to show a Syrian boy holding a poster depicting Bashar Assad during a demonstration in Idlib, Syria. (AP)
Children chant slogans during an anti-Syrian regime demonstration at the mountain resort town of Zabadani, Syria, near the Lebanese border, on Friday Jan. 20, 2012. (AP)
A man teaches Bilal, 11, how to use a toy rocket propelled grenade in Idlib, north Syria, Sunday, March 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice tweets:
|@ AmbassadorRice : #Syria regime turned artillery, tanks and helicopters on its own men & women. It unleashed knife-wielding shabiha gangs on its own children.|
Russia says international envoy Kofi Annan will visit Moscow on Monday to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria. Russia also called for an inquiry into an alleged massacre that took place in the village of Tramseh on Thursday. "We have no doubt that this wrongdoing serves the interests of those powers that are not seeking peace but persistently seek to sow the seeds of interconfessional and civilian conflict on Syrian soil," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement, according to Reuters. Moscow did not apportion blame for the killings.
Read more on Reuters.com.
The Associated Press obtained a video that purports to show the aftermath of an alleged massacre in the village of Tramseh, near Hama.
How do Syria's fighters get their arms? An overview put together by Reuters explains that there are three gateways to the country -- Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq.
Syrian rebels are smuggling small arms into Syria through a network of land and sea routes involving cargo ships and trucks moving through Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq, maritime intelligence and Free Syrian Army (FSA) officers say. Western and regional powers deny any suggestion they are involved in gun running. Their interest in the sensitive border region lies rather in screening to ensure powerful weapons such as surface to air missiles do not find their way to Islamist or other militants.
Read the full report here.
This citizen journalism image made from video provided by Shaam News Network SNN, purports to show a man mourning a victim killed by violence that, according to anti-regime activists, was carried out by government forces in Tremseh, Syria about 15 kilometers (nine miles) northwest of the central city of Hama, Thursday, July 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network, SNN)
According to the Hama Revolutionary Council, a Syrian opposition group, more than 220 people have been killed in a new alleged massacre in Taramseh. Earlier reports said more than 100 people were killed. "More than 220 people fell today in Taramseh," the Council said in a statement. "They died from bombardment by tanks and helicopters, artillery shelling and summary executions."
Fadi Sameh, an opposition activist from Taramseh, told Reuters he had left the town before the reported massacre but was in touch with residents. "It appears that Alawite militiamen from surrounding villages descended on Taramseh after its rebel defenders pulled out, and started killing the people. Whole houses have been destroyed and burned from the shelling," Sameh claimed.
Read more on Reuters.com.
Syrian activist Rami Jarrah tweets that Syrian State TV has confirmed deaths in Tremseh. "Terrorists" is often the term used by the Syrian regime for opposition forces.
|@ AlexanderPageSY : Syrian State TV: clashes between security apparatus & terrorists in #Tremseh of #Hama leaves large numbers of terrorists killed #Syria|
|@ Reuters : UPDATE: DEATH TOLL IN SYRIAN FORCES' ATTACK ON VILLAGE IN SYRIA'S HAMA REGION IS MORE THAN 200, MOSTLY CIVILIANS - OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS|