Children targeted in Syria, UNICEF says

June 1, 2011 at 1:23 PM
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NEW YORK, June 1 (UPI) -- There is disturbing evidence to suggest that children in Syria are being tortured or otherwise mistreated by authorities, the U.N. Children's Fund said.

Damascus is under fire for allegedly taking a heavy hand to silence opposition to the Baathist government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Foreign media are barred from the country, however, and the official Syrian Arab News Agency describes the conflict as an insurgency.

Assad announced that he imposed a general amnesty for crimes committed before Tuesday, SANA adds. In a headline, the official news agency said the president wanted to set up a committee to promote national dialogue as well.

Nevertheless, UNICEF said it was disturbed by information that suggested at least 30 children were killed when forces fired live ammunition at demonstrators in Syria.

"While UNICEF cannot verify the reported cases and events, we are particularly disturbed by the recent video images of children who were arbitrarily detained and suffered torture or ill-treatment during their detention, leading in some cases to their death," the agency said in a statement.

The United Nations last week said it was still waiting to hear from Damascus regarding a request to send a human rights team to the country to investigate the claims of violence.

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