ISIS using kids as executioners in Iraq

Displaced people are fleeing from clashes in Al-hud village, south of Mosul, during an operation to attack Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, on Oct 18, 2016.
Displaced people are fleeing from clashes in Al-hud village, south of Mosul, during an operation to attack Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, on Oct 18, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

Terror group has killed scores of civilians and used chemical agents against troops, says UN

GENEVA • Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants have summarily killed scores of civilians in the Iraqi city of Mosul in recent days, sometimes using children as executioners, and have used chemical agents against Iraqi and Kurdish troops, according to United Nations officials.

Video footage posted by the militants on Wednesday showed four children, who appear to be from 10 to 14 years old, shooting four civilians accused of disloyalty at a location near the Tigris River, said Ms Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesman for the UN human rights office in Geneva.

The video release identified one of the children as Russian, another as coming from Uzbekistan and two as Iraqis.

UN investigators have not identified the time of the killings but believe they were recent, citing the surge in executions by ISIS courts and fighters in and around Mosul in recent weeks and the brutal training the militants have forced on children in the parts of Iraq and Syria they control.

"They are showing they are still in business," Ms Shamdasani said.

PROVING A POINT

They are showing they are still in business.

MS RAVINA SHAMDASANI, a spokesman for the United Nations human rights office.

In one massacre, militants were said to have summarily shot 40 civilians in Mosul, dressing them in orange clothes adorned with words, marked in red, labelling them "traitors and agents of the ISF", Ms Shamdasani said on Friday, using the abbreviation for Iraqi security forces.

Afterwards, the militants strung up the bodies of their victims from electricity poles around the city - a practice ISIS long used to strike fear into those who live in the group's strongholds.

The next day, ISIS fighters shot 20 civilians at a military base in the north of the city and also strung up their bodies with signs carrying statements like "used mobile phones to leak information to the ISF," she said.

The UN said that militants were reported to have shot six civilians on Oct 20 for keeping hidden SIM cards in defiance of an order to surrender them. A week later, a 27- year-old man was killed for keeping a mobile phone, she said.

Among the witnesses to the recent killings was the sole survivor from a group of 50 former members of Iraq's security forces who were abducted by militants, taken to the Mosul airport and shot.

Although wounded, "he pretended to be dead, escaped and we spoke to him", Ms Shamdasani said.

Meanwhile, a mass grave discovered on Monday by Iraqi troops near an agricultural college in the town of Hamam al-Alil was only one among numerous sites of large-scale killings, she said.

The grave contained at least 100 corpses, but ISIS fighters were also reported to have dumped bodies down a well and at a cement factory yard in the same town, and at several other locations including the Mosul airport and in the Tigris.

On a lengthening list of atrocities reported from Mosul, militants had deployed "sons of the caliphate", believed to be teenagers or younger, around the old town armed with explosive belts. They had also brought abducted women, some of them members of Iraq's Yazidi minority, into the city to distribute them as slaves for their fighters.

In addition to ISIS forcibly moving civilians into Mosul for use as human shields, the UN said it had credible reports of the group's fighters using chemical weapons and chemical agents like chlorine gas against advancing Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

Ms Shamdasani said that Iraqi troops entering the city had found large quantities of sulphur and ammonia stockpiled in civilian areas of the city.

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 13, 2016, with the headline 'ISIS using kids as executioners in Iraq'. Print Edition | Subscribe