Instead of the bland political jargon of most reports on the Syrian crisis, the Save the Children report is composed of roughly two dozen firsthand accounts of those who had witnessed, or been the victim, of torture. "I was tortured with electricity," said 24-year old Mohamad. "The children were too — I saw this. We were in the same jail. The guards didn't hesitate — they used electricity on their hands, their legs, their backs, their genitals. They would beat the children until they bled. Many died."
He highlights this account:
"I knew a boy called Ala'a. He was only six years old. He didn't understand what was happening. I'd say that six-year-old boy was tortured more than anyone else in the room. He wasn't given food or water for three days, and he was so weak he used to faint all the time. He was beaten regularly. I watched him die. He only survived for three days and then he simply died. He was terrified all the time. They treated his body as though he was a dog."
Kenner also notes the incidents of torture are likely part of the reason the rebellion hasn't lost its mettle. But Assad's forces are not the only ones torturing - Ghaith Abdul-Ahad reports that in Aleppo, as areas of the city constantly change hands, everyone is at risk when happening upon fighters from either side of the conflict. Abdul-Ahad passes along one such bad-luck encounter:
First they made their suspect kneel. "Sir, sir, I made a mistake," the young man pleaded. "Please sir." His voice was quivering.
The rebels went silently to work. They didn't speak, but each seemed to know exactly what to do. They made the suspect lie on his stomach as one fighter put his foot on his spine and pulled his arms back until he screamed.
Two more knelt by his feet, pushing his lower legs between a kalashnikov and its sling and twisting the gun until it was tight around his calves. A fourth rebel pinned the young man's shoulder to the ground with his foot, placing the tip of a bayonet on the nape of man's neck.
A fifth man tore through the contents of a cabinet until he found a power cable. He sat twisting it and wrapping it in tape until it resembled a nightstick. A sixth young rebel sat with a pen and paper to take notes.
"Sir, sir, it's a mistake! I thought you were soldiers!"