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Children suffer, as envoy sees Syria war worsening

At least 116 people were killed nation-wide on Monday
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First Published: Tue, Sep 25 2012. 03 34 PM IST
Heavy smoke covers the skyline of Aleppo after a bombing on Monday. Photo: Zain Karam/Reuters
Heavy smoke covers the skyline of Aleppo after a bombing on Monday. Photo: Zain Karam/Reuters
Aleppo, Syria: Syrian soldiers were reported to have shot dead a young girl on Tuesday after peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said he saw no end in sight for the conflict as President Bashar al-Assad clings to power.
A day after at least 12 children were killed nation-wide, global aid agency “Save the Children” also said Syrian children are being “badly traumatized” after witnessing killings, torture and other atrocities.
Regime soldiers shot dead the girl when they targeted the car she was in after midnight on the motorway linking the northern commercial hub of Aleppo to Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
It said at least 116 people were killed nation-wide on Monday.
Explosions were also heard early Tuesday in Damascus, with columns of black smoke seen above the southern suburbs of Nahr Aisha and Tadamun.
Brahimi, the UN and Arab League envoy, said he saw the Syrian crisis only worsening.
“There is no prospect for today or tomorrow to move forward,” he said in remarks to reporters after briefing the UN Security Council on his talks in mid-September with Assad.
Reporting on his first visit to Syria since assuming his post, Brahimi said Assad “knows something must change,” but he only wants a return to “the old Syria” which he and his father have ruled for more than 40 years.
Brahimi painted a grim picture of the conflict, reporting on food shortages, the “medieval” torture of detainees, and damage to all but 200 of Syria’s 2,200 schools.
Brahimi also appealed to the divided 15-nation Security Council for united backing of his efforts.
The Syrian war has divided the Security Council, where Russia and China have already wielded their veto powers three times to resist international action demanded by Western and many Arab states.
The conflict was set to be spotlighted again later on Tuesday when US President Barack Obama is expected to lead Western demands for action on Syria at the start of the annual UN General Assembly.
Obama will be one of the opening speakers at the gathering of world leaders where the Syria conflict, mounting fears of a military strike on Iran and anti-West protests in Muslim nations are set to dominate.
UN chief Ban ki-Moon, France’s President Francois Hollande and Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, a key backer of the Syrian opposition, are also expected to lambast Assad.
Ahead of the General Assembly, Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi told US PBS television he opposes any foreign military intervention in Syria but believes Assad must go.
2,000 children killed
Assad’s military bombarded Aleppo city again on Tuesday, focusing its fire on the districts of Hanano and Maysar in the east and Kalassa in the southwest, the Britain-based Observatory said.
Since mid-July, the conflict has centred on Aleppo, where rebels of the Free Syrian Army say they control all of the axes around the northern metropolis, and that their only real worry is attack from regime warplanes.
According to reports troops loyal to Damascus have been forced to retreat on many fronts in the northern regions of Aleppo and Idlib, where rebels have captured hundreds of square kilometres of territory.
“The army is unable to control the ground, so it tries to stay in power by dominating the skies,” the Observatory’s Rami Abdel Rahman said.
On Monday, a lethal air attack killed five people, including three children from the same family, in Aleppo.
The Observatory said at least 2,000 children have been killed in the Syrian conflict over the past 18 months.
“Children should be going back to school, but instead they are suffering extreme violence,” Abdel Rahman said. “This would not be possible were the international community not silenced by its paralysis.”
Save the Children said it has collected “shocking testimony” that “children have been the targets of brutal attacks, seen the deaths of parents, siblings and other children, and have witnessed and experienced torture.”
Released on Tuesday, Untold Atrocities is a collection of first-hand accounts of the conflict from Syrian children and parents after fleeing the country.
It contains graphic details of how children have been caught up in the war.
The spark that lit the revolt was the arrest and torture in March 2011 of a group of boys in the southern town of Daraa, after they daubed walls with anti-regime graffiti.
At least 29,000 people have been killed since the revolt erupted last year, according to the Observatory, while the UN puts the toll at more than 20,000.
The Israeli military, meanwhile, said it filed a complaint with UN forces after Syrian mortar rounds fell early Tuesday on the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day war and unilaterally annexed in 1981. AFP
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First Published: Tue, Sep 25 2012. 03 34 PM IST