A shocked Syrian girl sits on an examining table with her bloodied hair matted against her blood-streaked face. Her stunned eyes fixate on the camera before her as her hands reach out from her plaid dress in search of something.
Perhaps any semblance of comfort after surviving a brutal "barrel bomb" -- the use of which many consider to be a war crime.
Since February, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has amped up its use of barrel bombs -- oil drums or cylinders stuffed with explosives and shrapnel -- in rebel-held areas of Aleppo. The campaign has drawn the condemnation of Western powers, and killed more than 700 people in Syria over the course of six weeks, according to Reuters.
The ruthless campaign demonstrates Assad’s willingness to indiscriminately wipe out civilians and any sense of normalcy for the area’s children. The injured girl from Aleppo's al-Sakhour district was fortunate enough to survive one such attack, but many kids in her area haven’t been as lucky.
On one Sunday in December, for example, 28 children were killed in a barrel bomb attack in the area, BBC News reported.
These attacks just mark another method by which the civil war’s youngest victims are becoming more vulnerable than any other group.
Humanitarians say that with the lack of proper health care and education, Syria’s children are at risk of becoming the "lost generation."
According to UNICEF, 10,000 children have been killed in the conflict, and a total of 5.5 million kids have been affected by the war.
Syria -- which was once the envy of the region for its high enrollment of students -- has become something of a literary wasteland.
In March 2011, 97 percent of school-age children were enrolled in school, and literacy rates surpassed the regional average, according to a recent UNICEF report. Two years later, just 30 percent of Syrian children had access to education.
"This war has to end so that children can return to their homes to rebuild their lives in safety with their family and friends," Anthony Lake, UNICEF executive director, said in a statement as Syria entered its fourth year of fighting. "This third devastating year for Syrian children must be the last."