The United Nations has reported that members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are killing, torturing and raping the children of minority families within Iraq, and the UN is asking that more be done in an effort to protect Iraqi children.
A report issued earlier this week by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child said there have been several recent reports of “several cases of mass executions of boys, as well as reports of beheadings, crucifixions of children and burying children alive.” The group has also been known to sell abducted children as sex slaves, writes Stephanie Nebehay for Al Arabiya News. Some are imprisoned and subjected to rape while others are sold at market with a price tag stuck to them.
The committee went on to say that the group has been using boys under the age of 18, particularly those who are “mentally challenged,” as suicide bombers, bomb makers, informants and human shields. A recent video showed a young boy, who was possibly a foreign fighter from Central Asia, executing two unknown men. Another video placed online showed children as young as 8 years old being trained to become child soldiers.
“We are really deeply concerned at torture and murder of those children, especially those belonging to minorities, but not only from minorities,” committee expert Renate Winter told a news briefing. “The scope of the problem is huge.”
ISIS is a breakaway Al-Qaeda group that has killed thousands and forced hundreds of thousands more from their homes in a “reign of terror.” The group recently released a video of a captured Jordanian pilot being burned alive.
The group has bragged on social media about its ability to gain children for its army after seizing large portions of Iraq and Syria the previous year. The group, which now controls an area about the same size as Indiana, has released numerous videos and pictures showing young children holding automatic weapons while in training or in formation.
The report notes that ISIS is not the only party using child soldiers and breaking international treaties in the process. The Iraqi militia fighting ISIS has also been known to recruit underage soldiers, and the Free Syrian Army is looking into bringing in refugee youth, writes Robin Wright for The Wall Street Journal.
Iraq’s military is currently having difficulty with its fight against the Islamic State and the government is asking for additional weapons and training be offered to their soldiers.
The UN agency is asking for even more to be done, saying the country needs to “take all necessary actions to ensure the safety and protection of children and their families.”
The U.N. body, which reviewed Iraq’s record for the first time since 1998, denounced “the systematic killing of children belonging to religious and ethnic minorities by the so-called ISIL, including several cases of mass executions of boys, as well as reports of beheadings, crucifixions of children and burying children alive”.