London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The UN Human Rights Office issued a report on Thursday which revealed that at least 93,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war so far, with the actual figure estimated to be far greater.
The UN report found 92,901 documented killings in Syria between March 2011 and the end of April 2013, with more than 5,000 killings documented every month since last July.
The victims included at least 6,561 children, including 1,729 children younger than 10.
This figure is a significant increase—slightly over 30,000—from the previous estimated death toll issued by the UN in November 2012.
According to the report, Damascus, Homs and Aleppo suffered the largest number of casualties since the start of the uprising in March 2011. The report recorded a death toll of 17,800 in Damascus, 16,400 in Homs and 11,900 in Aleppo.
The report added that boys and girls are being used as suicide bombers or human shields by both the Assad regime forces and the Syrian rebels seeking his ouster.
Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said: “There are also well-documented cases of individual children being tortured and executed, and entire families, including babies, being massacred—which, along with this devastatingly high death toll, is a terrible reminder of just how vicious this conflict has become.”
“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,” she added.
On the ground, at least 60 people, mostly Shi’ites, were killed yesterday by rebels in the village of Hatla in the Syrian province of Deir Ezzor, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported.
The rebels were said to have stormed the village, burning homes and killing civilians in retaliation for earlier Shi’ite attacks on Sunnis in the area.
A Syrian government official condemned the attack on the Shi’a district of the Sunni-majority village as a “massacre” of civilians, the Associated Press reported on Thursday.
A video clip posted online by Syrian rebels on Tuesday celebrating the “cleansing of Hatla” showed dozens of rebel fighters carrying black flags and firing guns in celebration in the streets of the small town. The black flag is traditionally an Islamist symbol.
In other news, Syrian rebels executed a teenager for blasphemy in the northern city of Aleppo earlier this week.
Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat about the death of the 15-year-old teenager, Muhammad Katta, SOHR director Rami Abdulrahman said that some opposition groups “behave like the regime in terms of covering up [their] crimes.”
“Those who killed the boy are Libyan [fighters] affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group,” he added.
For its part, the Aleppo Shari’a Council disclaimed responsibility for the teenager’s execution, stressing it was not responsible for this.
This comes at a time when the Obama administration is considering arming the Syrian rebels after Iran and Hezbollah stepped up their support to the Assad regime on the ground.
In a joint press conference with British foreign secretary William Hague, US secretary of state John Kerry emphasized that the US and European allies are pushing for a political solution to end the crisis in Syria by bringing the two conflicting sides to the table for negotiations.
Kerry’s statements come ahead of the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland next week, where the Syrian conflict is expected to be at the top of the agenda.