New Dangers Stalk Syrian Children Still Haunted by Horrors Under ISIS

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The boy did not want to see a beheading, so he held his mother’s hand tight and tried to close his eyes. But seeing it was mandatory when the Islamic State ruled his hometown in northern Syria: If you were out on the street, you had to watch.

Even by the brutal standards of the Syrian civil war, children growing up in areas ruled by the Islamic State have experienced and witnessed astonishing brutality. Schools have been closed for years. Polio has made a comeback. Boys have been recruited to fight.

Now, as foreign militaries and local militias try to flush out the Islamic State from its last redoubts in Syria, children fleeing the violence have to dodge airstrikes, snipers and then thirst and scorpions as they make their way across the desert. Danger looms even when they reach safety. The militias taking on the Islamic State are also recruiting children to fight, according to aid workers and United Nations officials. 

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Copyright Image: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters