Damascus: 2,086 children were recruited and used as child soldiers in Syria in 2021, the United Nations (UN) said in its annual report on children and armed conflict.
The Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) and other Syrian opposition militias were the biggest offenders, employing 949 children as soldiers. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) used 221 child soldiers, the second highest amount of any other party in the conflict in 2021.
The regime and pro-government forces used 46 children, the lowest number for the main parties in the Syrian war last year.
Since the start of the civil war in 2011, Syria has been considered one of the world’s worst countries for violations against children in regions of conflict.
Although all warring parties violated child rights, Syrian opposition militias and the SDF were consistently the largest employers of child soldiers.
Other offences against children in 2021 include kidnapping, military use of schools and hospitals, mutilation, murder and a few cases of sexual violence.
The Syrian civil war has continued since 2011 following the regime’s bloody repression of protesters. At least 350,000 Syrians have been killed, though estimates differ from the official death toll.