November 29, 2012 - 17:04 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Human Rights Watch accused the Syrian opposition of using young boys to serve as fighters, guards and lookouts in the brutal conflict with regime forces, AFP reported.
"Children as young as 14 have served in at least three opposition brigades, transporting weapons and supplies and acting as lookouts," the New York-based watchdog said. "Children as young as 16 have carried arms and taken combat roles against government forces." It called on rebel commanders to make public commitments to end this practice and to forbid anyone under 18 from serving in military roles, regardless of whether they volunteer.
"All eyes are on the Syrian opposition to prove they're trying to protect children from bullets and bombs, rather than placing them in danger," said Priyanka Motaparthy, children's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. HRW interviewed five boys between 14 and 16 who said they had worked with the armed opposition. "Majid," a 16-year-old boy from Homs, told HRW that he received combat training and had participated in missions in Syria along with his older brother.
At least 17 children have been killed while fighting alongside the FSA, according to the Syria Violations Documenting Center, an opposition monitoring group. Many others have been severely wounded and some permanently disabled.
In August, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria issued a report in which it expressed concern over reports of children under 18 fighting and performing auxiliary roles for opposition groups.