BEIRUT: Kidnapped Syrian Kurdish minors held by ISIS are being groomed to carry out suicide missions, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Observatory said Tuesday that based on the testimony of several youngsters who had escaped the militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), the children were being subjected to “brainwashing” in the form of religious instruction by the militants, an Al-Qaeda splinter group.
ISIS is believed to hold some 145 youths from the town of Ain al-Arab near the Turkish border. They were kidnapped on May 29 while returning from Aleppo, where they had taken their end-of-year school exams.
Five of the boys managed to escape their captors, the Observatory said, and informed their parents that they were being asked to join the ranks of ISIS.
“Residents and the parents of some of the children from Ain al-Arab informed the Observatory of their extreme fear that ISIS will recruit and move the students in order to carry out suicide car bombs or suicide attacks with explosive vests,” the Britain-based group said.
Another 193 Kurds, between the ages of 17 and 70, were also kidnapped that day in another part of rural Aleppo province.
The Observatory said it urged the immediate and unconditional release of the Kurds and all other kidnapped individuals, adding that forcing minors to take part in military operations was a crime under international law and urging all armed groups in Syria to refrain from such acts.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 18, 2014, on page 8.