Over the past four months, Mosul has seen intense fighting within the city and on its outskirts, as the coalition forces and the Iraqi government forces fight to take control over the Islamic State capital. While being under control of Islamic State extremists, children were traumatized and were brainwashed to conduct attacks on foreign lands.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have conducted several interviews that show how the extremists used to train and force children into studying extremist texts. Moreover, children have also sustained injuries during the fight and are in desperate need of help. Senior Crisis Response Advisor at Amnesty International, Donatella Rovera while visiting a northern town of Mosul, highlighted the horrific conditions children are in. “I met children who have not only sustained horrific wounds but have also seen their relatives and neighbors decapitated in mortar strikes, torn to shreds by car bombs or mine explosions, or crushed under the rubble of their homes.”
On 13 December 2016, a car bomb exploded outside the house of Umm Ashraf, bringing her house down. “Our homes have become our children’s graves. My neighbors are still buried under the rubble; no one has been able to dig them out. I dragged my wounded children from under the rubble one by one. But my sister was killed, I could not help her. My neighbor was decapitated in the blast, so many others killed.”
4-year-old Mohammed at a camp for Internally Displaced People (IDPs), several times in a day cries, slaps himself and bangs his head against the wall. Two of his sisters died in a mortar strike on 12 November 2016. Mouna, his mother said, “He and his little sister Taghreed were inseparable. He used to carry her all the time. Now he does not understand that his sisters are dead. He thinks we left them behind and gets sad and angry. I think he needs psychotherapy but there is nothing here in the camp,”
Apart from these, extremists also used apps to connect children to extremist media online, making them fight for religious cause by attacking foreign lands. Known as the “Cubs of the Caliphate” over 300 young ones have died in suicide attacks. Children are asked to read a magazine Rumiyah, in contrast to Dabiq, which the Islamic State lost in Syria.