Four and a half years of violent conflict have destroyed entire regions of Syria. Neighborhoods have been smashed by shelling and government barrel bombs, and towns have been seized by rebels and ISIS militants, then retaken by government troops, killing hundreds of thousands and injuring even more. The United Nations now estimates that more than 4 million Syrians have become refugees, forced to flee to neighboring countries or Europe. Caught in the middle of all this horror are the children of Syria, relying on parents who have lost control of their own lives and are now being forced to make difficult choices in desperate circumstances. Though many families remain in Syria’s war zones, thousands of others are taking dangerous measures to escape, evading militias, government forces, border guards, predatory traffickers, and more, as they struggle to reach safety far from home.
1. Young boy found lying face-down on a beach near Turkish resort of Bodrum was one of at least 12 Syrians who drowned attempting to reach Greece
2. A wounded Syrian girl stands in a makeshift hospital in the rebel-held area of Douma, east of Syria’s capital of Damascus, following shelling and air raids by Syrian government forces on August 22, 2015. At least 20 civilians were killed, and another 200 wounded or trapped in Douma, a monitoring group said, just six days after regime airstrikes killed more than 100 people and sparked international condemnation of one of the bloodiest government attacks in Syria's war.
3. Syrian children walk on rubble after their building partially collapsed following a reported airstrike by government forces on a rebel-held area of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.
4. Syrians evacuate an injured boy from rubble following a reported airstrike on the rebel-held town of Douma, northeast of Damascus, on June 16, 2015. Nearly every day, Syria’s air force drops barrel bombs—containers packed with crude explosives and shrapnel—on areas wrested from government control by rebels.
5. The body of a girl is covered with a shroud at a makeshift hospital in the rebel-held area of Douma, east Damascus, following reported airstrikes by regime forces.
6. Syrian refugee Kutana al-Hamadi, 24, tends to her 7-month-old son Almunzir, covered with a mosquito net, at their tent in an informal tented settlement near the Syrian border on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan, on July 21, 2015. Almunzir is suffering from malnutrition, according to his mother. “My son is too weak; my body doesn’t produce milk (and) … we can’t afford buying milk,” says Kutana al-Hamadi. “We survived the barrel bombs in Syria but I’m afraid we won’t survive the lack of health and food.”
7. Syrian girl Salam Rashid, 14, who lost both of her legs below the knee in 2012 in a tank shell attack, poses for a picture at the MSF Hospital for Specialized Reconstructive Surgery in Amman, Jordan, on August 11, 2015. The international charity Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) will officially inaugurate its new reconstructive surgery hospital for war victims, which it says is unique in the region, in Amman next month.
8. Migrants from Syria sleep at a park in Belgrade, Serbia, on August 27, 2015. Over 10,000 migrants, including many women with babies and small children, have crossed into Serbia over the past few days and headed toward Hungary and the EU Schengen Area, a zone with no internal border checks between member countries.