Islamists in Syria’s Raqqa: Recruitment of child soldiers inevitable




ARA News

Activists inside the Syrian city of Raqqa told ARA News that members of the al-Qaeda affiliated group of the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (ISIS) and the Islamic Movement of Ahrar al-Sham (HASHA) forced the city’s residents to send their children to the military training camps, established jointly by both extremist  groups. 

According to the ISIS and HASHA, the Islamist camps were founded “to convey an authentic and real Islamic education” to the news generation in Raqqa area.

According to sources, some families were prevented from seeing their children who have recently joined the training camps.  

“After forcibly taking away our children, Islamists are attempting now to brainwash those children and intentionally plant extremist ideas and concepts in their heads in order to accomplish specific agendas,” father of a forcibly recruited child in Raqqa told ARA News

In these training camps, children are being taught how to use light weapons, beside the theoretical classes in which the ideology of extremism and al-Qaeda is being learned.  

A mother of one of those children −preferred anonymity− described the practices of ISIS and DAASH towards children of Raqqa city as “a crime under the name of religion”. 

“Such practices are very dangerous and should be taken seriously because of the consequences they will most likely have on the future of the entire area,” she told ARA News. “Children are being brainwashed and taught one of the most dangerous ideologies. The international community and human rights organizations should take action and put an end to such activities. What Islamist groups are doing today in Raqqa is similar to what Khomeini did during the Iraqi-Iranian war when he sent children to fight an allegedly defend the country.” 

She further compared the possible outcomes of the current Islamist-led training of children to what happened in Rwanda. 

“Those children are going to kill their relatives because of supposed ideological difference, as what happened in Rwanda”, she expressed her fears.

Journalists and media activists are not allowed to cover the developments on the ground when the news concerns the al-Qaeda affiliated Islamists. According to sources, dozens of journalists have been abducted and killed by the ISIS fighters in the city of Raqqa. 

“We are forced to publish reports on ‘lies imposed on us’ by the ISIS, and if we try even indirectly to convey the reality on the ground or criticize the group’s practices against civilians, we will definitely be arrested and killed, because such extremists show no mercy to anyone that oppose their actions or reveal their shortcomes,” a media activist in Raqqa told ARA News, preferred to stay anonymous.  

Through its Shariaa Council in the city of Raqqa in northern Syria, the Islamic State in Iraqi and Sham (ISIS) issued a statement full of instructions that was distributed on the residents of the city. the statement included instructions and strict teachings on how women must behave according to the Islamic law (Shariaa).

“A woman is not allowed to wear jeans or put make-up outdoors, she is nor allowed to smoke as men do. All barber shops are to be closed thus no men are allowed to cut hair. Women clothes are only allowed to be sold by women. Women are not allowed to resort to male doctors; if any medical treatment is needed, women are expected to rather visit female doctor’s clinic,” ISIS statement read. 

According to observers, the al-Qaeda affiliated groups and their ideology cannot survive for a long time in Syria because it remains non-Syrian and it will never be fully embraced by the Syrian people. “Any foreign agenda cannot be forced and survive in the long-run except after receiving a local blessing,” observers argue. 


Report by: Ridwan Bizar and Mir Yaqoub

Source: ARA News


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