Al-Qaida linked jihadists in insurgent-held areas in northern and eastern Syria are targeting children as young as four-years-old and teenagers for indoctrination, conducting teach-ins, opening schools and training camps, say human rights activists.
“You are seeing the jihadists trying to create a new pool of suicide bombers,” says psychotherapist Mohamed Khalil of the London-based Arab Foundation for Care of Victims of War and Torture. Read my full VOA dispatch here.
“While the international media focuses on whether al Qaeda has latched onto the escalating Syrian conflict, opposition activists and human-rights observers are less alarmed than the Pentagon about the trickle of foreign fighters arriving in the war-torn country than about the home-grown hardening of sectarian attitudes among Syrians and the adoption by rebels of more muscular Islamist views.” See my Daily Beast dispatch.
“Syrian rebels are redoubling their efforts to acquire portable anti-aircraft missiles following government airstrikes on cities and towns in the north of the country.
In the latest such strike, a Syrian Air Force jet bombed the rebel-held town of Azaz near the Turkish border, killing at least 50 people and wounding more than 100.
Rebel commanders and activists say their buyers are now scouring the arms black markets in the region to get the shoulder-fired missiles that can counter the government airstrikes.”
Read more from my recent VOA dispatch here.
From my Daily Beast piece today:
“During a disturbing and at times surreal visit to a detention center in Al Bab in northeastern Syria on August 10, members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the main rebel-fighter force, still appeared to be involved in torture and abuse.
Their instruments of pain were on clear display: in the small dusty yard in front of the facility, not far from where guards lounged and smoked cigarettes, wooden sticks and iron bars were scattered in the shade, still coated with blood.”