More than 7873 children have been killed by Syrian Government’s Armed Forces since the begun of Syrian revolution to 6-4-2013


Rule 135. of Customary IHL

Rule 135. Children affected by armed conflict are entitled to special respect and protection.


Since mid-February of 2012, the nature of Syrian conflict has been described as a non-international armed conflict. Meaning each party to the conflict should be bound to apply Common Article 3 to the four Geneva Convections as well as Customary Norms of International Human Rights Law relating to non-international armed conflicts.

Security council resolution 1325/2000: emphasizing all member states to implement fully international humanitarian law and human rights law, based on violence during conflicts.

International criminal law provides means to implement international sanctions for serious violations against customary law, international law and international human rights law where these crimes are seen as an individual commitment. As noted the international criminal law trial persons accused of such crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity , aggression crimes and war crimes.

As of February 2013, 122 states are parties to the Rome Statues of International Criminal Court, although the Syrian Arab Republic signed the Rome Statue of International Criminal Court, it has not ratified the treaty yet.

According to Article 13 of ICC

(Exercise of jurisdiction)

(b)     A situation in which one or more of such crimes appears to have been committed is referred to the Prosecutor by the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations; or

Security council can refer Syrian file to the Prosecutor of ICC for investigation  


Syrian Government

First : Unlawful killing:

Documented the death toll killed by Syrian Government Armed Forces

International Humanitarian Law: Rule 89. Murder is prohibited

SNHR: by our daily monitoring and over 120 members deployed in all of the Syrian provinces and their direct connection to the events that took place on the Syrian territory, we have documented the killings of at least 7837 children by Syrian Government Armed Forces, the annex documenting our file names, photos, date and place of their martyrdom are found below.

Among the 7837 victim children:

1-   2343 female child, 5494 male child

2-   At Least 327 field executed, either slaughtered by knifes as in Houla village massacre in Homs, Karam Elzietoun neighborhood massacre in Homs, and Refai neighborhood massacre in Homs, or shot as in many villages and towns in all the Syrian governorates armed forces

3-   1930 have not reached the age of ten; 348 are infants

Different and multiple Types of killing children:

1-   Shelling

2-   Sniping

3-   Raiding and field executed

4-   Shockingly: among at least 194.000 Syrian detainees; more than 9000 children (under 18), Syrian governorates armed forces used very violent torture methods against them, and the methods used barely differ from those used against adults. They don’t differentiate between children and adults in detention

Many of those who were released told us that they heard the crying children scream, “we want our mother, we want to get out.”

Syrian government armed forces tortured to death at least 79 children at the site of their arrest, and in prisons. They even died while in the hands of the executioner.

Please find all the above mentioned details, documented carefully in the following annex

Children victims deployed all the Syrian Governorates as follows :

1-   1531 children killed in Aleppo

2-   1506 children killed in Damascus countryside

3-   1390 children killed in Homs

4-   1013 children killed in Idlib

5-   683 children killed in Daraa

6-   628 children killed in Hama

7-   519 children killed in Dier Alzoor

8-   332 children killed in Damascus

9-   74 children killed in Raqqa

10- 61 children killed in Lattakia

11-  48 children killed other nationalities

12-  26 children killed in Hasaka

13-  18 children killed in Qunaitra

14-  6 children killed in Tartous

15- 2 children killed in Swidaa


Children from various Syrian Governorates tell their stories of shelling, sniping, and how Syrian Government Armed Forces killed their parents:

Aleppo Governorate

–   Aleppo / Albab road, 13-9-2012, child tells how Syrian Government Forces warplanes bombed his house

–   Aleppo / Bustan al- Qasr, 20-8-2012, child tells the story of his injury caused by Syrian Government Armed Forces shelling

–   Aleppo / El- Ard Alhamra , 22-2-2013, child tells the story of his injury cause Syrian Government Armed Forces shelling

–   Aleppo / Masharqa – 18-4-2013, child tells how he was beaten by Syrian Government Shabiha

–   Aleppo /Ansari , 12-3-2013, child tells how Syrian Government Armed Forces shelled his neighborhood


Dier Alzoor Governorate

–   Dier Alzoor, 31-7-2012, child tells how Syrian Government Forces warplanes bombed his house


Lattakia Governorate

–   Lattakia countryside / Alhafa, child tell how Shabiha killed his mother


Daraa Governorate

–   Daraa /  Dael village, 29-4-2012, child tells the story of his injury by a sniper bullet shot by Syrian Government Armed Forces


Hama Governorate

–   Hama countryside / Latamna, 13-4-2012, child tells the details of Latamna massacre committed by Shabiha


Damascus countryside Governorate

–   Damascus countryside / Doma , 3-3-2013 , child tells how Syrian Government armed forces shelled his house

–    Damascus countryside / Arbin, 27-1-2013, child tells his suffering caused by shelling from Syrian Government Armed Forces

–   Damascus countryside / Kafar Batna, 8-11-2012, wounded child tells the death of his sister caused by shelling from Syrian Government Armed Forces

–   Damascus countryside / Doma, 3-3-2013, child tells how his twin brother was killed by Syrian Government Armed Forces shelling

–   Damascus countryside / Eastern Ghouta, 28-10-2012, child tells the story of his injury caused by Syrian Government Armed Forces shelled his house


Idlib Governorate :

–   Idlib / Sahl Alghab, 30-10-2012, child tells how Syrian Government Armed Forces shelled his house

–    Idlib /Mart Masrin, 4-12-2012, girl talks about her injury, caused by shelling


Homs Governorate :

–   Homs/ Houla village, 17-1-2013, child tells how Syrian Government Armed Forces shelled his house

–   Homs / Rastan, 13-5-2012, child tells the story of his injury by a shell from Syrian Government Armed Forces

–   Homs/ Karm Alzitoun, 19-3-2012, child tells how Syrian Government Armed Forces shelled his house

–   Homs / Rastan, 24-7-2012, child tells the story of his injury cause: Syrian Government Armed Forces’ warplane shelling his house



Despite repeated Syrian government’s allegations that it is fighting Al-Qaeda, the Afghan terrorist cell, the attacks are deliberately, systematically, and extensively aimed at civilians, acts considered to be classified as war crimes under Article 8 of the Rome Statue.

Systematic and extensive Syrian armed forces attacks killed thousands of child victims in all Syrian governorates, and are therefore tantamount to crimes against humanity according to Article 7 of the Rome Statue.

Second:  proportion of killed children

Civilians comprise the majority of victims killed by Syrian Government Armed Forces, making up 91% of those killed. The number of armed rebels killed is less than 9%. The rate of civilian casualties surpasses the proportion of civilian victims killed in World War I and II.

Proportion of killed children is 9%, a very high and alarming rate, and strictly proves that the Syrian government’s armed forces are targeting civilians by systematically shelling them with Scud missiles. Civilians also fall victim to the indiscriminate, and deliberate, barbaric act of random shelling by warplanes using TNT.


Third:  Arrest and detention of children

Article VII of international convention (International Human rights law) clearly prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

SNHR estimates at least 9000 children currently detained in security branches and prisons were arrested during the raids, and many of them were arrested when their relatives were threatened.

Many surviving children told the story of their suffering and how they were victim to the same cruel torturing methods used against adult men.

Using their testimonies, SNHR documented the most common torture methods used against children during their detention in Security Branches or prisons.

1-   Using all methods of physical abuse against all body parts by different tools such as stakes and electric cables, colloquially called (Robai), to beat on the soles and tread on the head.

2-   Completely uprooting fingernails.

3-   Removing hair from different parts of the body

4-   Cutting out flesh by forceps from sensitive organs

5-   Cutting out some parts of the detainee body; such as finger, flesh, or stabbing in the back or stomach

6-   Burning detainee’s skin using chemical acids or cigarettes.

7-   Exposing the detainee after being enforced to take off all clothes and covers to extreme cold.

8-   Depriving the detainee from medical care totally as there is a lack of medical care in large number of prisons.

9-   Preventing the detainee to use the toilet but once or twice a day, forcing him/her sometimes to urinate on himself/herself. If the detainee is allowed to use toilet, the period may not exceed a minute. The detainee is also prevented from taking shower, and going out for a breath of fresh air.

10- Pouring cold water over the body after being hit and wounded.

11- Cracking ribs.

12- Insufficient amount of water and food, which is not enough for a quarter of detainees.

13- Pouring boiling oil or water over legs

14- Cutting the ear with a clipper meant for trimming trees

15- Stressing ears and nose with a mallet.

16- Electric shock, especially in breasts, knees, and elbows.

These torture methods led to the deaths of more than 79 children, documented by name, date, photo, and video.

Detained children are deprived of education and stopped their study years with at least another 150000 children because of destruction, shelling and damage of almost 3200 schools, and breaking into dozens of schools because of student involvement in anti – government demonstrations, more than 140 teachers were killed by Syrian Government’s Armed Forces.

Syrian Government starkly violated a number of Customary IHL rules

Rule 90. Torture, cruel or inhuman treatment and outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, are prohibited.

Rule 91. Corporal punishment is prohibited.

Rule 120. Children who are deprived of their liberty must be held in quarters separate from those of adults, except where families are accommodated as family units.

Fourth: Sexual Violence

By conducting multiple interviews with sexual violence victims, we found that there are dozens of minors who were raped. For minors (under 18), we can’t give accurate statistics, since there are many cases that weren’t documented, and many concerned persons declined to talk about the subject. But our estimations refer to more than 400 rapes for minor girls in various Syrian Governorates .

Girls under 15 in the Refai, Karm Alzaitoun and Baba Amr neighborhoods in Homs were raped by Syrian government armed forces. Many minor girls were also raped in similar cases that took in the Damascus countryside, Idlib (Precisely Jisr Alshagour), Daraa, Hama, Lattakia, and other areas. These extensive, systematic methods reflected terribly on the psyches of those girls, since some never had sex, and some girls didn’t know what sex was. Many of them collapsed when they talked about what happened to them. Most documented rape cases occurred during raids, and others occurred in detentions.

Rule 93. Rape and other forms of sexual violence are prohibited.

Rape and sexual violence are associated with non – international armed conflict, and can therefore be prosecuted as war crimes committed by Syrian Government Armed Forces.

The practice of rape and sexual assault was one of the torture methods used in formal and informal detention centers, in violation of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law.


Fifth: Child Recruitment

We didn’t document the Syrian Government Armed Forces’ use of child soldiers in its ranks.

However, children and civilians were used as human shields during raids.

Rule 97. The use of human shields is prohibited.


Sixth: Refugee Children

SNHR estimates that more than 75% of the refugees in neighboring countries are made up of women and children. According to the last statistics measured with SNHR, the number of Syrian refugees amounts to 1.650.000, including 149.000 child under the age of 18. Most of them are suffering from harsh living and educational conditions, and urgently require long term psychiatric treatment due to the tragic and horrific experiences of the massacres, shelling, and destruction that occurred in their home towns and villages.

Attachment and annexed are samples of the extensive systematic violations that took place in all the Syrian governorates against Syrian children.

Homs Governorate :

–   Homs , Bab Siba , 28-11-2012 , child lost his eye , received many operations, but they were conducted in vain

–   Homs , Rastan ,12-11-2012 , trying to revive a child wounded by shelling

–   Homs , Rastan ,13-5-2012 , child dying from shelling

–   Homs – Adawia ,12-3-2012 , burned body for a child, from direct shelling

–   Homs , Rastan ,3-4-2012 , child has serious injury cause of shelling

–   Homs – Ter Mala village , 14-11-2012 , child has serious injury cause of shelling

–   Homs – Khaldiah , 20-5-2012 , child injured cause of sniper bullet


Daraa Governorate:

–   Daraa -Jizzah , 12-7-2012 ,child shot with three bullets by Syrian Army

–   Daraa – Bosra Alsham  , 11-12-2012 , child’s hand lost cause of shelling


Dier Alzoor Governorate:

–   Dier Alzoor – Mohasan , 19-9-2012 , child lost his leg cause of shelling on bread bakery while trying to get some bread

–   Dier Alzoor – Mohasan , 19-9-2012 , Another child in the same day injured cause of shelling on bread bakery while he was trying to get some bread


Aleppo Governorate:

–   Aleppo – Albab , 18-11-2012 ,  child injured cause of shelling

–   Aleppo – Alshaar , 4-11-2012 , child injured cause of shelling

–   Aleppo , 8-10-2012 child dying cause of shelling

–   Aleppo – Bostan Alzahra , 3-10-2012 , child shot by a sniper bullet


Hama Governorate:

–   Hama , 18-5-2012 , child injured cause of shelling

–   Hama – Almadik castle , 19-2-2012 , child shot by security forces


Damascus and countryside:

–   Damascus countryside – Madaia , 5-8-2012 , child shot by a sniper bullet

–   Damascus countryside – Kudsia , 16-6-2012 , child shot by Syrian army’s  bullet

–   Damascus countryside – Kafar Batna , 2-11-2012 , child lost his leg cause of shelling

–   Damascus countryside – Moazamiat Alsahm , 12-12-2012 , child shot by a sniper bullet

–   Damascus – Hajar Aswad , 13-12-2012 , child injury cause of shelling


Idlib Governorate:

–   Idlib – Sirmene , 28-9-2012 , child injured cause of shelling

–   Idlib – Bibish , 9-11- 2012 , another child injured cause of shelling

–   Idlib – Aldana , 26-7-2012 , child with severely injured cause of shelling , doctors trying to help him but in vain



–   Homs / 2012 , child suffering from under-nutrition, weakness caused by blockade of Homs by Syrian Government Armed forces, and lack of food and baby milk

–   Homs – Hola / 2012 , displaced civilians, including children, suffer from homelessness and poverty  after leaving everything they have because of shelling by Syrian Government Armed Forces

–   Damascus countryside / Kafar Batna – 2012 child lost one of his feet because of shelling by MIG

–   Homs /2012 , another child suffering from undernutrition-caused weakness because of blockade of Homs for more than 200 days  by Syrian Government Armed forces, and lack of food and baby milk

–   Jordan – Zaatari refugee camp / 2012 , children in Zaatari camp suffering from lack of healthcare and severe weather conditions

–   Syria / 2012, child lost one of his feet because of shelling on civilian houses

–   Homs / 2012 , children in a field hospital injured because of shelling

–   Alshaar – Aleppo / 2012 ,  child sleeping in a pool of his own blood, because of shelling, while a doctor in a field hospital tries to help him

–   Haibit – Idlib / 2012 , no treatment is available for children under five because out of fear of having their wounded children abducted, civilians cannot transfer their children to hospitals. The children are treated in one of the available substitutions for field hospitals

–   Homs – Kusair / 2012 , children injured cause of shelling

–   Homs/2012 , injured children with no shelter cause their homes are demolished cause of shelling

–   Dier Alzoor , 11/6/2012 , child injured his head cause of shelling

–   Damascus countryside – Hamoria / 2012 – child injured in a field hospital

–   Turkey – refugee camp / 2012 , children in queue to get food

–   Aleppo / 2012 , child lost his weight because of the lack of food and children milk and medicines, because the Syrian army prevented entry of these materials

–   Aleppo – Bab Alnirb / 2012, child injured in a field because of shelling

–   Damascus countryside /2012  , child’s face completely scarred because of a sniper bullet

–   Daraa / 2012, infant girl child injured because of random shelling

–   Dier Alzoor / 2012 , girl child lost one of her eyes cause of random shelling


Legal conclusions:

The Syrian government violated both International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law.

According to Article 7 and Article 8 of Rome Statue, and many other rules of  Customary IHL (rules No. 89-90-93-97-120-135),

the Syrian Government Armed Forces committed extensive systematic war crimes and crimes against humanity by unlawful killings, torture, sexual violence.


Armed Rebels

1-   Most common violations committed by Armed Rebels include using children under 18 in dangerous non-combat roles (such as: support fighters, medical support, correspondence, espionage, cooking, and other services etc…), and in some rare conditions, fighting and carrying weapons

We did not document any torture, rape, or killing of children by armed rebels.

Conclusions :

2-   SNHR is observing, with concern, the use of children in dangerous non-combat roles, and in rare cases, in combat roles, and to carry weapons. The observations are not extensive.

3-   ICC considers the conscription and enlistment of children under the age of 15, and their enforcement in the participation in hostilities to be war crimes

4-   SNHR didn’t documented any case where children under 15 were forced to carry weapons, but there is evidence and documented cases where children participated in non-combat roles


Condemnation and responsibilities:

Responsibilities of the State for internationally wrongful acts, similarly, Customary IHL provides that the State is responsible for all acts committed by the members of its military and security forces, thus, the State is responsible for wrongful acts committed by its military and security forces, including crimes against humanity.

Prohibition crimes against humanity are among the rules of jus cogens or peremptory, and the punishment of such crimes is compulsory according to the General principles of international law. Moreover, the crimes against humanity are the highest violation of basic human rights, which include the right to life and prohibition of torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. In accordance with the principles of State responsibility in international law, Syrian Arabic Republic holds responsibility for such crimes and violations. It is their duty to ensure punishment of the perpetrators individually, and to provide compensation to victims.

SNHR holds that all violations committed by Syrian Government Armed Forces accountable to the Syrian government and the General Commander of the army and the armed forces, Bashar Al-Assad, to all the officials of in security branches, and to all financial and moral supporters of those forces, with the legal judicial and material consequences to the victims and their families in addition to all the reactions that will come by the families or their friends.

We also condemn violations committed by some armed rebel factions and demand interim government to take its responsibility in this regard


Recommendations :

Human right council

1-   Call upon the security council and relevant organizations to take upon their responsibility towards the Syrian children who have and will, fall victim to murder, rape, and displacement.

2-   Pressure the Syrian government to stop torturing, demand the release of all children, and stop the Syrian government from pressuring their parents through the detention and torture of their children.

3-   Hold the allies and supporters of the Syrian government : Russia , Iran , China ,  morally and physically responsible for what is happening to the Syrian children.

4-   Give serious attention to this case, give it a high priority, and try to take care of tortured victims’ families.

Security Council :

1-   Refer all the criminals and others involved to ICC.

2-   Warn the Syrian Government Troops of the repercussions of using brutal methods and systematic killing, send them a clear message that this will not be tolerated.

Arab League  :

1-   Demand the Human Rights Council and United Nations to give this serious issue the right attention and follow up.

2-   Give serious attention to this case and give it a high priority, and try to take care of tortured child victims and rehabilitate them mentally, physically , educationally.

3-   Apply political and diplomatic pressure on the Syrian Government Troops’ main allies – Russia, Iran and China – to prevent them from continuously providing cover, international and political protection, for all the crimes committed against the Syrian people and hold them morally and physically responsible for all the excessive violence of the Syrian Government Troops.

Transitional Government:

1-   Provide Media and Political attention deserved of this case, and continuously raise these issues in Syrian Friends Conferences.

2-   Demand the Human Rights Council and United Nations to give this serious issue the right attention and follow up.

3-   Form specialized committees to follow up on the conditions of detainees’ families and care for them financially and morally.

4-   Form specialized committees to provide moral and psychological support to rehab children for what’s happening to them in by way of the killing, rape, and displacement.

5-   Condemn, account, and follow up on the torture committed by opposition armed factions .


-Report prepared by Syrian Network for Human Rights

Author: Impunity Watch Archive