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Children of war in Syria and Iraq. Photo by Afshin Ismaeli/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The devastating conflict in Syria has claimed civilian lives not only as unintended collateral, but as deliberate targets of "unlawful methods of warfare" by all sides, according to a new report from the United Nations.

Based on more than 500 interviews, the 37-page report alleges, among other things, that the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces actively conscript children as young as 13 for military service.

The details:

  • Between July 2017 and January 2018, men and children conscripted by the SDF were given basic training and deployed to active frontlines against their will.
  • Journalists and activists have repeatedly been intimidated and arrested for reporting on violations by the SDF. In several instances, the SDF arbitrarily detained relatives of activists in order to apply pressure on them.

Meanwhile, several of the violations by ISIL and pro-Government forces documented by the U.N. commission constitute war crimes, including...

  • ISIL's use of trapped residents in Raqqa as human shields.
  • The use of cluster munitions and other indiscriminate weapons in civilian-populated areas.
  • Starvation as a method of warfare.
  • The deliberate targeting of medical infrastructure.

The U.S. Department of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper

Updated 57 mins ago - Politics & Policy

House passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Photo: Stephen Maturen via Getty Images

The House voted 220 to 212 on Wednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans plan to exact pain before COVID relief vote

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.

The new grifters: outrage profiteers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As Republicans lost the Senate and narrowly missed retaking the House, millions of dollars in grassroots donations were diverted to a handful of 2020 congressional campaigns challenging high-profile Democrats that, realistically, were never going to succeed.

Why it matters: Call it the outrage-industrial complex. Slick fundraising consultants market candidates contesting some of their party’s most reviled opponents. Well-meaning donors pour money into dead-end campaigns instead of competitive contests. The only winner is the consultants.