More than 300 child fighters are among the almost 500 jihadists who have been killed in battles by US-backed forces to wrest the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State, a Syrian watchdog group said.
According to a report Sunday by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the majority of those killed in battles with Iraqi, Kurdish and Shiite troops converging on the city were Syrian minors drafted to fight for Islamic State’s “Cubs of the Caliphate” youth force.
The Cubs of the Caliphate receive intense military and religious training throughout IS’s areas of control in Syria, according to reports from the war-torn country.
The child soldiers are deployed to man checkpoints or gather intelligence from areas outside IS control, but IS has also used them to execute prisoners or conduct suicide attacks.
The Observatory put the total number of Islamic State fighters killed since the offensive began two weeks ago at 480, well below the 800-900 fatalities figure offered by the Pentagon last week.
While their forces suffered heavy losses, IS preachers continued to announce victory in Mosul. “Allah has replaced the loss in Aleppo’s Dabiq with a victory in Mosul,” they told worshipers.
Though only a small town of marginal strategic importance in northern Syria, Dabiq has figured centrally in IS propaganda. Citing Islamic lore, the extremist group claims it will be the stage for an apocalyptic battle between Crusaders and an army of the Muslim caliphate that will herald doomsday. The group’s English-language propaganda magazine is named after the town.
Source: /Times of Israel