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IS detains hundreds of children for human shielding and recruitment

Syria, First Published Jan 26, 2022, 10:22 AM IST

Hundreds of children are being held inside Islamic State prisons in north-east Syria. Concerns about child safety are growing. The Ghwayran prison in Hasaka, which was attacked by the Islamic State on Thursday, is believed to have held about 850 children. More than 150 people have been reported killed since an IS raid to free militants in jail. It is estimated that there are thousands of ISIS in prisons controlled by the Kurdish authorities.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) coalition, with the support of the US-led coalition, had occupied key parts of Syria years ago. He then fought against IS and in March 2019 declared a local defeat. However, there are reports that IS cells are still operating here and carrying out deadly attacks on security forces and civilians.

More than 100 IS militants carried out a surprise attack on the jail. This led to heavy clashes inside and outside the prison, including US-led coalition airstrikes. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK – based monitoring group, said on Monday that 102 IS militants, seven civilians, 45 Kurdish members of the security forces and prison guards had been killed in clashes inside the jail since Thursday.

Meanwhile, UNICEF, the UN’s Children’s Charity, said it was concerned about the 850 children in prison. According to UNICEF, there are serious concerns about the safety of children, especially children under 12 years of age. “As the violence continues, these children may be abused or forcibly recruited into ISIS,” UNICEF said in a statement.

The SDF said IS militants were hiding in the dormitory. The SDF warned that children were being used as ‘human shields’ and that they would be responsible if children were injured. The SDF said that the area around the jail was closed by their troops and that IS militants inside the jail gate could no longer escape.

The IS’s strategy was to forcibly recruit children, including those they had abducted, and train them to carry out suicide bombings and kill prisoners. According to the SOHR, the overcrowded prison in Guyana is suspected to have 3,500 IS members, including some leaders. Hundreds of militants have been captured in the wake of the IS attack, but some are still at large.

Last Updated Jan 26, 2022, 10:22 AM IST

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