The horrific toll civil war is taking on the children of Syria is laid bare in the first major report to focus on the issue. At least 11,420 children, more than a tenth of the conflict's casualties, have been killed since the conflict began in March 2011, including hundreds who were shot dead by snipers or summarily executed, the report from a London think-tank finds. Teenage boys were the most likely to be killed but children as young as just a year old have been tortured and executed, reports the BBC. Bombing and shelling were the cause of most deaths and the report's authors have urged both sides to stop targeting civilians.
More than 2.1 million refugees have now fled the conflict and the United Nations, which says this is the worst refugee crisis in a generation, warns that there could be 3.5 million refugees by the end of the year, reports the New York Times. To make matters even worse for internally displaced Syrians, al-Qaeda fighters have been making major gains in northern Syria in recent months, displacing more moderate opposition groups and imposing strict Islamic law in areas under their control, CNN finds. The jihadist groups are even more dangerous in Syria than they were in Iraq, and are "more likely to sustainably control territory, project power around the region, possibly sponsor global terrorist attacks, and catalyze a new generation of jihadist insurrection," a counterterrorism expert warns.