There is no doubt that the war in Syria has disrupted (and ended) the life of millions of children in Syria. Now, Save the Children reports that both the rebels and the government have resorted to recruiting child soldiers to fight in the raging conflict that has essentially destroyed Syria from the inside out.
There is no point in sugar coating it. Syria was once one of the more prosperous (or at least, less dysfunctional) countries in the Middle East though admittedly ruled by a corrupt and ruthless dictator in Bashar al-Assad. Now, as the war has raged on for two years it’s hard to argue that conditions have done anything but deteriorate in the war stricken nation. Tens of thousands have died, including many innocent civilians caught in the cross fire, while the national economy has all but collapsed. Thousands upon thousands of refugees are trying to flee the fighting, only to be refused entry by foreign nations or crowded into overwhelmed refugee camps.
Now, according to a report released by Save the Children, young children are being forced into the fray by combatants on both sides. Children are being used in a wide range of roles, including as messengers, spies, and even front line combat soldiers. In some cases the children are taking up arms based on their (or their families) own predomination. Some see it as a source of pride and honor to fight for one side or another. This same sense of “honor” has led children to sign up to fight in many wars, including the American Civil War which saw children as young as 11 enlisting (by lying to recruiters, technically one needed to be 18 years or older).
There have also been accusations that leaders on both sides have pressured children into picking up arms or otherwise pressuring them to contribute to the war effort. At the very least, both sides have been aggressively recruiting child soldiers. Part of the drive for children to pick up arms is undoubtedly due to a decreasing number of adult men willing and able to fight. Hundreds of thousands have fled or are in hiding, tens of thousands have been killed, countless more have been injured. The sad truth is that Syria is completely decimating itself from the inside out.
There has been a lot of talk in the United States about arming Syrian rebels; however, after the mess in Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia many Americans are weary of getting involved in (another) Middle Eastern civil war. While officially the United States remains on the side lines there are rumors that American special-ops is already on the ground training and arming rebels from secret bases in Jordan. This comes amid reports of increased radicalism among Syria’s rebels, who just a few days ago took UN Personnel hostage. The UN observers were released after three days of captivity.
Now Syria is now on the verge of collapsing into a failed state. Indeed one could argue that it already has. The country’s major cities and infrastructure have been destroyed. It is believed that a million or more people have been displaced within Syria, and the entire economy has been all but destroyed. The fact that children are being used in combat should come as no surprise. Both sides have already made it clear that this will be a fight to the death and that surrender or compromise is not an option.