The Islamic State group has kidnapped more than 180 children from different areas in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul over the last few days, a Kurdish official said Saturday. The children, aged between 10 and 15, were abducted by ISIS to be trained with weapons, before being recruited to fight for the extremist group.
“During the past few days, ISIS militants kidnapped 182 children from the city of Mosul,” Saeed Mamouzini, an official of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, told Iraqi News. “The children were transferred to centers for ideological training, weapons and suicide operations. … The abductions of children angered the residents of Mosul.”
ISIS has drawn worldwide criticism for turning children into extremist fighters and using them as suicide bombers. In ISIS training camps, boys, some of them as young as 8, are reportedly shown beheading videos and then asked to decapitate dolls. Although the exact number of children currently fighting for ISIS is unknown, the militant group is estimated to have recruited more than 1,100 child soldiers since the beginning of this year.
ISIS also recently released a video, showing a child beheading a man, who was identified as a soldier in the army of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported last week that over 50 child soldiers recruited by ISIS in Syria have died so far this year. According to the U.K.-based agency, all these children were below the age of 16.
Meanwhile, international coalition airstrikes against ISIS killed 23 militants of the group in an aerial bombing in Baiji and Ramadi in northern and central Iraq, respectively, Iraqi News reported Saturday.
“The international coalition has carried out a number of effective airstrikes since yesterday night and until today,” Iraq’s War Media Cell said in a statement, according to Iraqi News. “The airstrikes resulted in killing 21 terrorists from ISIS and the destruction of a booby-trapped vehicle near Baiji’s oil refinery, in addition to killing two other militants in Ramadi.”