Children of opposition members and rebel fighters are routinely imprisoned by government forces and subjected to "electric shock, beatings, stress
positions and threats and acts of sexual torture," according to the study. They are used as pawns to extract information on rebel involvement in local
populations. Often, children are held for ransom until family members turn themselves into the government, facing almost certain death.
Rebel recruitment of children was another main concern in the study. As the war drags on, and the Free Syrian Army is pressed for able-bodied fighters,
children are becoming more involved in the war, though some commanders have been documented turning away youngsters. While some children -- many between
the ages of 15 and 17 -- serve as fighters, others load bullets, carry weapons, and distribute water and food.
Some children are sent to fight by family members. Other are recruited directly by the FSA, which has come under attack for allegedly bribing impoverished
families with money. They are "manipulating the poverty of the people and the vulnerability of the population," according to Zerrougui, who added that
children should never be allowed to fight, even if they volunteer.
The Syrian regime is accused of raping young women and girls in detention facilities, checkpoints, and during raids, though rebel groups have been also
been accused of committing acts of sexual violence.
The war in Syria has claimed nearly 93,000 lives, according to another report released Thursday. Every month, 5,000 more people perish.
While the report, complied from eight databases from March 2011 to April 2013, reveals the most accurate information on conflict-related Syrian deaths to
date, it is still a conservative estimate. The new death toll only includes deaths where names, dates, and locations could be verified.
"The true number of those killed is potentially much higher," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement Wednesday. "States with influence could, if they
act collectively, do a lot more to bring the conflict to a swift end, thereby saving countless more lives."
The UN reports come at a crucial time for international efforts to resolve the increasingly bloody civil war. Syria is at a crossroads following the recent
capture of Qusair -- a strategic rebel stronghold in western Syria -- by regime forces. And just yesterday, U.S. and European officials confirmed that Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad's forces used chemical weapons.
"Following a deliberative review, our intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has
used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year," said Ben Rhodes, Deputy
National Security Adviser, in an official White House statement.