Used as Shields and Tortured to Death
The war in Syria has had many casualties. The world has watched as all signs of humanity in Syria have been wiped out. We have seen as Syria has deteriorated into a hellish reality we dare not look upon for any length of time. And perhaps that is why we have been able to miss seeing just how much this battle has cost the most vulnerable of Syria's population. The children.
In Homs and Houla we witnessed countless children being laid to rest. They had been beaten and slaughtered at the hands of the shabiha. Many had had their hands bound by zip-ties and then executed like war criminals. Everyone who was honest enough with themselves knew what had happened. We were the few who looked at the images and read the stories. Yet most of the world looked away.
Now we know that the Syrian army has gone beyond simply abducting children and killing them. They have done more than just rounding up children and massacring them. We now know that Assad's military has been using children as human shields. The soldiers have been forcing children to set on their armor and tanks while the army creeps into contested neighborhoods. The goal is to prevent rebel soldiers from using their dreaded RPGs to disable or destroy the Syrian armor.
In Aleppo we can not tell yet if the Syrian military has used this tactic. But it is not beyond belief seeing as how the streets are narrow and the tanks are unable to engage their targets easily with buildings surrounding them. This urban conflict has left the Syrian tanks exposed to rebels and their mobile weaponry. Thus we are almost certain to see more children being used as shields.
Syrian infantry has been known to force children out ahead of them so that the rebels line of fire is blocked temporarily. The Syrian soldiers on the other hand have no fear of shooting through the children to gain the upper hand. To Assad's troops the children are "expendable".
We all know that this a crime against all humanity. We know that the intentional killing of children is a war crime we can not and should not overlook. So why is the world trying to discuss this sin as though it didn't happen? Why are we asking nicely, timidly, that Russia stop supplying Assad with the ammunition and weapons to kill his own citizens? And why are we not expressing outrage over the killing of children no matter where it is happening?
I don't have the answers for this. I can't even start to assume the answers for these questions. They just haunt me day and night. Every time I find myself with some free time... Syria's children are on my mind. The faces of those who have perished are stained upon the backs of my eyelids. And till this senseless slaughter ends... my goal is to engrave their faces upon the eyes of all those who pass through Alder's Ledge.
And that is where we leave things tonight. We are still waiting to see what Assad has in mind for Aleppo. His troops have been tied up trying to stop the guerrilla combat in Damascus. But we know for certain that soon he will be forced to launch his promised "all out assault" on the rebel forces in Aleppo. And when that time comes we will have to see just how many of the 2.5 million innocent civilians will be killed in the fighting.
As for now we wait, we watch, and for the love of G-d... please pray for Syria and the children currently in harm's way.
Sources Used (note that not all sources used are listed)
The New York Times
UN News Centre