Islamic State publicizes use of child soldiers in Baiji fight

IS children 2


A young Islamic State fighter firing a howitzer during the fighting at the Baiji oil refinery

In a newly released video showing the Islamic State’s assault on the Baiji oil refinery complex, one of the scenes shows two children using what appears to be a US-made M198 howitzer. The children fired the howitzer towards Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) positions in the complex.

In the past, the group has highlighted the use of children as executioners, or as helpers in executions, many times.

In January, the group used a Kazakh child to execute two alleged Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) spies. The young boy was previously featured in an Islamic State video highlighting a training camp for Kazakh recruits and their children in Raqqah. Last month, the jihadist group used a French child to execute an alleged Israeli spy. In the most recent issue of its online English-language magazine Dabiq, the Islamic State justified its use of child executioners on the basis of Islamic history. Most recently, the Islamic State featured a video of a child handing knives to those fighters who would later behead several Syrian Army soldiers.

The Islamic State runs many training camps for children in Syria and Iraq. The children in these camps are called the “Cubs of the Caliphate,” which coincides with many jihadists labeling themselves as “lions.” The group has a camp for children in Damascus, many camps in Raqqah and Mosul, at least one for children in Tal Afar, and is thought to have more in Dier al Zour. The Islamic State utilizes these camps to radicalize and indoctrinate children into its violent ideology. Other jihadist groups in Syria also run camps for children. (For more on these camps and many others in Iraq and Syria, see the map of jihadist training camps made by The Long War Journal here.)

IS children


Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.

Tags: , ,


  • m3fd2002 says:

    To me what’s more informative is that they are utilizing the US-made M198 howitzers, probably in coordination with drones. This combo could be very effective. Those kids would have a tough time loading the ordinance into the breach, at least if they want to keep up a decent firing rate. Interesting information though. Thanks.

  • Myrddin says:

    Is the coalition hoping to eventually recapture all this expensive gear from ISIS intact – and thus save massive writeoffs ?

    Because I am baffled as to how ISIS can operate an artillery position in broad daylight – including posing for photos – and no one is in a position to drop a bomb right down the barrel ?

    Is this 2015 or 1915 ?

  • Bob says:

    I too am shaking my head as to why the terrorists seem to be able to move around in molested as they do. Seems kind of fishy. How many counties with aircraft dropping ordinance in Syria and Iraq and some days 2 flights, somedays 12, why not unrelenting ,sustained bombardment to wipe them off the world. They all want martyrdom, so be it!


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram