Photos taken near Damascus show children wielding automatic rifles, training in formation
(SOURCE) The Islamic State terror group published photos Saturday of children firing loaded AK-47 assault rifles, assembling weapons and standing in formation, at the “Cubs of the Caliphate” training camp near Damascus, Syria.
A total of seven images were distributed across social media platforms, including Twitter and jihadi forums, showing a group of adolescents wearing face masks and military fatigues, crouching in shooting positions, and struggling to cock large weapons.
The Islamic State’s exploitation of children for warfare and other purposes was documented in a November report by the UN entitled “Rule of Terror: Living under ISIS in Syria.” ISIS, as well as ISIL and IS, is an acronym for Islamic State.
According to the dispatch, the jihadi group has “instrumentalized and abused children on a systematic scale,” using them in combat roles, as spies, guards, cooks, medics and even suicide bombers.
“I saw at least 10 armed ISIS members aged 13–14 years old,” an unnamed interviewee from Al-Hasakah, Syria told the UN inquiry.
“These boys served as guards at ISIS headquarters and at checkpoints. They were armed with Kalashnikovs and grenades,” he said.
The report observes that adolescents have been the victims, witnesses and perpetrators of public executions, and details an account of a 16-year-old boy reportedly cutting the throats of two Syrian soldiers captured from Tabqa airbase in late August 2014.
The document notes that “ISIS prioritizes children as a vehicle for ensuring long-term loyalty,” and that by instilling in them a strict adherence to jihadist ideology, the terror group seeks to form a “cadre of devoted fighters that will see violence as a way of life.”
In June, watchdog group Human Rights Watch said in a report that the Islamic State and other armed groups in Syria were recruiting kids as young as 13, training them with weapons and sending them into battle.
They were assigned the same military duties as adults, and children and adults alike signed up for suicide-attack missions.
Since 2013, the Islamic State has ruthlessly carved out large swaths of Syria and Iraq for its self-styled Islamic caliphate, drawing widespread condemnation for its brutal tactics, massacres of civilians and execution of captives, including some Western hostages.
Thus far, 200,000 people have died over the course of Syria’s three-year civil war, according to the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights.