Children take part in a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Bustan al-Qasr district in Aleppo - Reuters
Nearly two million Syrian children are badly affected by the ongoing civil war between President Bashar al-Assad's regime and the armed opposition groups, says a charity report.
Some of the victims undergo brutal torture, including sexual abuse, while many others are being recruited as human shields from sides, says the report released by the UK charity Save the Children.
The researchers found that no less than one in four children they had met, lost their loved ones in the unrest.
Syrian children are the "forgotten victims - facing death, trauma and suffering, and deprived of basic humanitarian aid," according to the report.
"For millions of Syrian children, the innocence of childhood has been replaced by the cruel realities of trying to survive this vicious war," said the charity's chief executive, Justin Forsyth.
The report titled 'Childhood Under Fire' says two million children suffer from various diseases and trauma. Around 2,000 school buildings in the country have either been damaged or used as temporary shelters, affecting the children's education.
Recollecting his ordeal, a child named Nidal told in his testimony carried by the report, "They shot at us near my foot so I jumped. I was scared, very scared, and my friend too. We were surrounded by walls. So we jumped over walls and ran away. They entered and beat my father. They started to beat him with sticks. All of them were beating him. One of them was kicking him. I was hiding in the room so they wouldn't take me."
Safa, another child-victim told the research team, "I don't think there is a single child untouched by this war. Everyone has seen death, everyone has lost someone. I know no one who has not suffered as we have. It is on such a scale."
Appealing for international help, the charity says children are being used as porters, guards, informers, and in many cases as human shields. The report points out that although children are sexually exploited, rape cases are under-reported due to the sensitivity of the matter.
The death toll during the uprising has almost reached 70,000 while more than a million Syrians have been forced to flee to neighbouring nations as refugees.
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