Children in Syria have accused troops of using them as human shields, according to a report by the UN's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.
Radhika Coomaraswamy said that some children claimed they had been forced to ride on tanks to stop attacks by opposition fighters.
Ms Coomaraswamy told reporters her team had returned from Syria with "horrific" reports. She said the suffering inflicted on children in Syria was unusual even for combat situations: “Killing and maiming of children in cross-fire is something we come across in many conflicts but this torture of children in detention, children as young as 10, is something quite extraordinary, which we don't really see in other places." She said that in recent massacres children under the age of 10 had been summarily killed, adding: "Those kinds of things we don't see elsewhere." However, she also criticised the opposition Free Syrian Army for endangering children: “For the first time we heard of children being recruited by the Free Syrian Army mainly in medical and service orientated jobs but still on the front line.” A team of UN military observers is currently inside Syria as part of a six-point peace plan brokered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
Despite all international diplomatic efforts, bloodshed is continuing on a daily basis. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 100 people were killed in violence across Syria on Monday.