The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

2023 | 300 children killed in acts of violence in all zones of influence across Syria and 66 new-born babies found on roadside and in dumpsters

SOHR continues its appeals to defend children rights and keep them away from military actions

Facing unpleasant present and uncertain future in a country devastated by a protracted war that has been raging for nearly 13 years, children in all zones of influence across Syria are struggling with disastrous social and economic situations. Those children and their families are desperately attempting to survive death committed by regime forces and their proxy militias, rebel factions and terrorist organisations, amid “shameful” inaction by the international community and regional powers which have turned blind eye to the blatant violations practiced by all conflicting powers against Syrian children, which are manifested mainly in using them as human shields and recruiting them to military formations with the aim of achieving narrow interests and agendas.


The UNICEF has confirmed that 6,500,000 Syrian children are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, where they lack the minimum livelihood, such as food, water and shelter, where the most of them live in refugee camps. Those children have also been robbed of their right to attain education, as many schools an educational facilities have been destroyed in military battles throughout Syria.


According to “Save the Children” organisation’s statistic, 2,500,000 Syrian children have dropped out of schools since the beginning of the war in Syria, including 318,000 in north-west Syria, while UN sources have confirm that the total number of dropouts is much higher.


Since the onset of the Syrian Revolution, children have been affected the most by the war and its disastrous repercussions, where thousands have been killed by all conflicting powers in Syrian territory.


As acts of violence continued in 2023, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has documented the death of 300 children in all zones of influence throughout Syria during the period between January 1, 2023, and December 25, 2023, the date of publishing this report; they are distributed as follows:


  • 43 killed in indiscriminate gunfire and infightings.


  • 12 killed by rebels.


  • 13 killed in unknown circumstances.


  • 82 killed by explosions of old ordnance.


  • 50 killed in gunfire and bombardment by regime forces.


  • 34 were murdered.


  • 13 died of poor health conditions.


  • Five killed in Russian airstrikes.


  • Six killed in bombardment and airstrikes by Turkish forces.


  • Eight killed by Jordanian forces.


  • Two killed in gunfire by Turkish Jandarma.


  • 19 killed in the explosion of landmines and IEDs.


  • Three shot dead by unidentified gunmen.


  • Four killed by SDF.


  • Six killed in other circumstances.


It is worth noting that the largest death toll among children since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution was documented in 2016 when 3,583 Syrian children were killed in military battles and acts of violence. During the past years, SOHR documented scores of massacres against children committed by different powers involved in Syria’s war. According to SOHR statistics, nearly 24,000 Syrian children were killed since the beginning of the conflict in 2011. This large number is unrefuted evidence of the use of children as tools of the war in full view of the entire world which turned its back on the horrific crimes committed against Syrian children.


In 2023, Syrian children have suffered from strict siege imposed by local authorities and sanctions by foreign powers, which has exacerbated the economic conditions further. Experts have stated that a Syrian family of for live on less than one US dollar a day and that the members of a family share only one loaf of bread every day and only one bottle of water, fearing consuming contaminated water which may lead them to catching some fatal diseases, such as cholera.


Moreover, Syrian children have struggled with starvation and poverty, while many have found themselves homeless and were forced to stay in the open, after their families had lost their homes in bombardment and military battles or forced out from their residence for failing to pay rents. All these tragedies have negatively affected children.


On the other hand, Syria has experienced acute shortage of infant formula, after its price on markets having increased to an unprecedented level unaffordable by the many; this, in turn, spurred many parents to feed their babies water-diluted cow milk.


Not only Syrian children have suffered from poverty, hunger and thirst, but also they have fallen victims of recruitments by military formations. One example, among many, was the recruitment operations by ISIS which exploited the dire living conditions in areas that had been under its controlled and managed to lure boys to join military ranks and fight alongside the terrorist organisation, after having instilled its extremist ideology in the segments of the Syrian society in those areas.


Moreover, many minor girls have been subjected to sexual exploitation and raping, while many others have been forced to marry at young ages. Many human rights and media reports have documented shocking stories of little girls who became mothers at very young ages, at a time when they were supposed to attain education at schools. It is worth noting that most of the students who had dropped out of school were females.


On the other hand, SOHR activists reported that new-born babies are left almost daily in dumpsters and on roads in all zones of influence, as their families abandon them, after having engaged in illegal relationships without marriage. Financial reasons also played a key role in spreading this phenomenon, were many parents have chosen to abandon their new-born babies, as they failed to secure infant formula for them in light of the dreadful living conditions and sky rocketing prices.


This phenomenon has grown dramatically in 2023, where SOHR documented 66 cases of abandoned new-born babies across Syria, where they were left in dumpsters and plastic bags in front of mosques and on the roadside; they are distributed as follows:


  • Regime-controlled areas: 25


  • SDF-held areas: 33


  • Areas controlled by Turkish-backed factions: 4


  • HTS-controlled areas: 4


Although Damascus had signed international laws and conventions regarding the improvement of the living conditions of children decades ago, SOHR stresses that the situation on the ground totally contravenes the terms of those laws and conventions, while the escalating violence and proliferation of arms have exacerbated the situation further. Furthermore, the conflicting powers have never cared about improving the situation of children or even keep them away from the conflict and military battles.


According to UNICEF statistics, nearly 12 million Syrian children are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. UNICEF has also confirmed that nearly 2,450,000 Syrian children inside Syria and 750,000 others in neighbouring countries have failed to attain education since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution, with 40% of the total number being females.


It is worth noting that over 5,700 children, some aged seven, have been recruited to military formations since the beginning of the war, while over 1,300 educational and medical institutions have come under attack.


We, at the Syrian Observatory, call upon the Syrian authorities to comply with the international conventions which protect children rights and keep Syrian children away from all social, political and tribal conflicts.


SOHR has been all along warning against the unpleasant repercussions of the starvation which is a byproduct of the lack of food in light of suspension of support provided by humanitarian organisations and charities. It is worth noting that some powers have intentionally hindered the delivery of aid supplies to exert pressure on their enemies and on international authorities to achieve narrow interests, and such practices have badly impacted children.



The Syrian Observatory would like to point out that all information and figures mentioned in this report have been documented and updated until the date of publication, December 25.