52 IS Child Soldiers Killed in Syria

52 IS Child Soldiers Killed in Syria52 IS Child Soldiers Killed in Syria

More than 50 child soldiers recruited by the Islamic State group in Syria have been killed since the beginning of this year, a monitoring group said on Wednesday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had documented the deaths of 52 child soldiers, all under the age of 16, who had been part of IS’ “Cubs of the Caliphate” program, AFP reported.

The program provides intense military and religious training to children throughout IS’ areas of control in Syria, the Britain-based observatory said.

As many as 31 were killed in July alone, in explosions, clashes and airstrikes by Syria’s regime and the US-led coalition.

The child soldiers are used to man checkpoints or gather intelligence from areas outside IS control, but IS has been increasingly using them to execute prisoners or conduct suicide attacks.

So far this year, IS has used 18 children as suicide bombers, most recently in its fight against Kurdish militias in northeastern Syria.

“This shows the IS is exploiting the suffering of the Syrian people,” said observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman. “When a child reaches the point of becoming a suicide bomber, this means that he’s been completely brainwashed.”

The observatory said it had received information on dozens more children killed, but that it could not confirm their deaths. Since the beginning of 2015, IS has recruited more than 1,100 children.