Syria is caught between bombs and butchery

Hassan Hassan writes: Consider two heart-wrenching scenes that recently emerged from Syria. The first one is of children lining up behind 25 soldiers in the historic city of Palmyra, pointing pistols at the soldiers’ heads. The second is of a child killed in his Aleppo home by a barrel bomb that failed to explode.

In the first scene, shown in a video released by ISIL recently, the 25 soldiers are on the stage of a Roman amphitheatre and the child executioners parade before they line up behind them. A photo shows the bloodstained, lifeless child in Aleppo in the second clip – he appears to be hugging the unexploded barrel bomb.

It is hard to say which crime is worse. The culprits responsible for the two crimes are among Syria’s worst villains. ISIL is training a generation of Syrian children to be monsters, while Bashar Al Assad’s tactics are damning thousands of children to early graves.

Thousands of Syrian children have lost nearly every aspect of their childhood in this dreadful conflict. Thousands more have lost their lives. One only needs to visit Syrian communities in Turkey or open YouTube to see children who have lost limbs because of arbitrary shelling and bombing.

In ISIL-held territories, the lack of options force many children to join the group. Boredom is made worse by the fact that even if some of them decide to look for opportunities elsewhere, they find all avenues closed.

As a Syrian, I feel guilty about warning a child or teenager against a smuggler’s promise to take him to Europe. I know where their thoughts might head if that desperate option ceases to be a possibility. I then wonder how long sane people can resist as the situation deteriorates. [Continue reading…]

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