ISIS recruits more child soldiers to compensate loss of militant fighters

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ISIS recruited hundreds of child soldiers to join its battlefronts. File photo

ARA News

ALEPPO – Radical group of the Islamic State (ISIS) has increased recruitment of children in its fight against the western-backed forces on ground in both Syria and Iraq, especially after an unprecedented wave of dissidence hit the group’s ranks in the last couple of months, activists reported on Tuesday. 

Speaking to ARA News in Mosul, media activist Mohammed Dujana said that the terror group received heavy blows over the last few months, especially after the U.S –led coalition forces hit dozens of Sharia courts buildings and the so-called Bayt al-Mal (the House of Wealth) where many ISIS top leaders and insurgents used to gather.

This caused a huge pressure on the group’s militants, especially after many financial resources were attacked and destroyed by the U.S.-led coalition and the local ground forces.

“As many fled from the militant group’s ranks, Daesh forced dozens of children to join its jihadi training camp in Mosul,” Dujana said, using an acronym for ISIS.

In the meantime, the United States confirmed that ISIS relies on child soldiers after many adult members defected from its ranks.

That may indicate the group’s leaders are “struggling with their ability to recruit and retain manpower,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday.

However, Kirby pointed out that more and more fighters are leaving ISIS’s ranks, prompting the group to rely more heavily on child soldiers, or what the group prefers to call ‘Cubes of the Caliphate’. 

The so-called ‘Cubs of the Caliphate’ is a unit for child soldiers who fight in the ranks of ISIS. It has branches in every city controlled by the militant group in Iraq and Syria.

“Originally, ISIS would rely on children for intelligence streams, getting information… and then using them to conduct suicide attacks, which they still do,” Kirby said, pointing out that ISIS, according to intelligence reports, pushes these boys to fight side by side with the group’s adult insurgents. 

“ISIS leaders are struggling with their ability to recruit and retain manpower,” said the spokesman. “They are still very lethal and the United States still considers the threat from ISIS “very seriously”.

Islamic State has been recruiting children since its emergence and control of vast territory in Iraq and Syria. The group recruited at least 400 children in Syria within the first three months of 2015, and provided them with military training and hardline indoctrination under the banner “Cubs of the Caliphate”, a rights activist in Raqqa told ARA News, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The training helps them learn basic fighting tactics. The terror group also recruit children as informants and as guards for the jihadi headquarters,” according to the source.

“The radical group took advantage of the tribes of al-Tarabsha and al-Bu Nimr to collect dozens of Syrian and Iraqi children to be trained in the al-Tabqa headquarters in Raqqa province,” an informed source told ARA News, pointing out that many minors have also been utilized as human shields.

The militant group has been losing strength and territory over the past few months, beside a remarkable decrease in the salaries of its militants to nearly the half. The U.S.-led coalition’s airstrikes on the group’s vital positions and resources have also paralyzed movement of ISIS jihadis. 

Reporting by: Helin Saeed and Egid Ibrahim 

Source: ARA News

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