A UN report has revealed that children in Syria have accused troops of using them as human shields.
Some children said they had been forced to ride on tanks to stop attacks by opposition fighters.
The UN's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict said children were being tortured in detention and slaughtered in massacres.
Radhika Coomaraswamy said that her team had returned from Syria with "horrific" reports.
She said she had never seen a similar situation where children were not spared - and even targeted - in a conflict.
Coomaraswamy said the suffering inflicted on children in Syria was unusual even for combat situations.
Children described being beaten, blindfolded, and subjected to stress positions, whipped with heavy electrical cables, scarred by cigarette burns and in one case subjected to electrical shock during interrogations.
A team of UN military observers is currently inside Syria as part of a six-point peace plan brokered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
Despite all international diplomatic efforts, bloodshed is continuing on a daily basis.
Activists say the regime of President Bashar al-Assad is deliberately targeting civilian populations, while the government blames the violence on "armed gangs".