Islamic State group recruits, exploits children

BEIRUT (AP) — A growing body of evidence points to Islamic State group extremists actively conscripting child soldiers.

The indications come from residents, activists, independent experts and human rights groups.

In the northern Syrian town of Kobani, where ethnic Kurds have been resisting an IS onslaught for weeks, several activists told The Associated Press they observed children fighting alongside the militants.

It is difficult to determine just how widespread the exploitation is. A United Nations panel investigating war crimes in the Syrian conflict concluded that the Islamic State group is perpetrating abuses and war crimes on a massive scale.

While the use of children by armed groups in conflict is nothing new experts say no other group comes close to IS in using children in such a systematic and organized way, indoctrinating them with a radical and violent interpretation of Shariah law.

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