Children are being deliberately targeted by snipers in Syria, with more than 11,000 killed in the brutal conflict, a new report has claimed.
More than a quarter of all children killed in the conflict were killed with firearms, rather than bombs, caught in crossfire, as well as specifically targeted by snipers.
More than 700 were summarily executed, and 112 tortured, including some infants, the Oxford Research Group said in its report.
The number of boys killed outnumber girls two to one, and the most likely targets are boys aged 13 to 17, the report said,
“The data we analysed indicates that bombs and bullets alone ended the lives of ten thousand Syrian children in 30 months of war”, said co-author Hamit Dardagan. “The world needs to take a much closer interest in the effects of the conflict on Syria’s children.”
The report analysed Syrian databases of casualty reports used by the UN to draw official figures, but looked in detail at the ages of victims and how they were killed. The report stressed that the figures may well be incomplete, because of the difficult in receiving accurate data in some parts of the wartorn nation.
More than 120 children were killed by chemical weapons, in the attack on Ghouta on August 21st, the report added.
The report’s other co-author, Hana Salama, added: "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.
"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.
Dardagan said: "This study shows why explosive weapons should never be used where children live and play, how older children quickly become targets in a war and even the youngest suffer its worst abuses.
"This grim and terrible record also shows why a sustainable peace, not more bombs and bullets, is the only way to guarantee the safety of children."
More than 100,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the conflict, according to the UN figures.