Children are increasingly being recruited into the Syrian conflict, with both regime and opposition forces using boys as soldiers and even human shields, international charity Save the Children said Wednesday (March 13th).
In a report marking two years of violence in Syria, the charity said two million children have been affected in a conflict the UN reports has cost at least 70,000 lives.
These children are struggling to find enough food to eat and are under constant risk of malnutrition and disease, the report said. Many are unable to attend school, and the early marriage of girls is increasing -- possibly in an effort to protect them from the perceived threat of sexual violence, but sometimes as a cover for sexual exploitation.
Meanwhile, "children are increasingly being put directly in harm's way as they are being recruited by armed groups and forces", the charity said.
"There is a growing pattern of armed groups on both sides of the conflict recruiting children under 18 as porters, guards, informers or fighters," it said.