Colonel Pat Ryder of the US military’s Central Command said that the number of boy soldiers – some as young as 10 – had been growing steadily, and that some are even being used to put prisoners to death.The US military issues no official counts of enemy dead – it was criticized during the Vietnam War for using “body counts” as a metric of progress — as it leads the multinational coalition conducting air strikes against IS fighters in Iraq and Syria. But Pentagon estimates suggest the number of slain jihadists is between 23,000 and 33,000.
Ryder’s comments came the day after the IS group released a horrific video showing six of its child soldiers killing Syrian security forces captured by the jihadists.When the six boys are chosen by an instructor to “send a message” to IS’s opponents, five of them shoot and kill Syrian captives, while the sixth slits a prisoner’s throat.The slick video, titled “To the Sons of Jews,” also shows dozens of boys studying religious texts and learning hand-to-hand combat. Through a program it calls “Cubs of the Caliphate,” IS provides intense military and religious training to children in the area it controls.
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