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Syria: priest condemns use of child soldiers by rebels

Newest part of Deir Mar Musa - Wiki images

Newest part of Deir Mar Musa - Wiki images

The UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, has learnt that there are child solders in the ranks of the Free Syrian Army rebels, fighting President Bashar al-Assad. International conventions ban the use of soldiers under the age of 16.

Speaking from Damascus, Fr Paul Dall'Oglio, a Jesuit at the ancient Monastery of Deir Mar Musa, said: "The news, unfortunately, does not surprise me: the presence of teenagers who take part in the fighting is a notorious phenomenon and is part of the tragedy we are experiencing. Moreover, throughout this terrible year, there have been cases of children and adolescents arrested, tortured and killed. The political mobilization of youth and adolescents, in their vehemence and irresponsibility, was and is a present element in the popular uprising. Their militarization, however, is due to the ongoing civil conflict in some areas. Resorting to arms and violence drowns any possibility of dialogue and mediation, supported by most of the Syrian people".

Fr Paul said that Syrian Christians "demand that the UN endeavors to protect children and prevent Syrian adolescents from arming themselves. We call on the forces to not arm children. We hope that a greater UN responsibility on the ground, suggested by Kofi Annan, will mean greater protection for all youth and Syrian childhood".

Source: Fides


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