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.)
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