More than 50 child soldiers recruited by the Islamic State (ISIS) group in Syria have been killed since the beginning of this year, a monitoring group reported, according to Al Jazeera.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday it had documented the deaths of 52 child soldiers, all under the age of 16, who had been part of the jihadist group’s “Cubs of the Caliphate” program.
ISIS provides intense military and religious training to these children throughout its areas of control in Syria. The group has published videos of boys – some appearing to be as young as eight years old – loading and firing guns and crawling through sandy brush as part of military training.
The footage also shows children gathered around a table studying religious texts.
As many as 31 “Cubs of the Caliphate” were killed in July alone, in explosions, clashes, and air strikes by Syria’s regime and the international coalition, reported Al Jazeera.
The child soldiers are used to man checkpoints or gather intelligence from areas outside ISIS control, but the group has been increasingly using them to execute prisoners or conduct suicide attacks, the network added.
In one case, ISIS released a video of children beheading nine Shiite victims.
So far this year, ISIS has used eight children as suicide bombers, most recently in its fight against Kurdish militia in northeastern Syria, and has used as many as 19 children as suicide bombers, according to the Observatory.
“This shows that Daesh is exploiting the suffering of the Syrian people,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
The Observatory has received information on dozens more children killed, but that it could not confirm their deaths, the report said.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)