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Iraq: Militants Hunting for Wives; Children Used as Snipers

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By Athena Yenko | June 24, 2014 5:12 PM EST

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant  (ISIS) militants are hunting for wives as they battle control of Iraq's major oil refinery outside Baiji, north of Baghdad.

REUTERS/Stringer
Children, who fled from violence in Mosul, stand inside a camp on the outskirts of Arbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region, June 20, 2014. Iraqi forces were massing north of Baghdad on Friday, aiming to strike back at Sunni Islamists whose drive toward the capital prompted the United States to send military advisers to stiffen government resistance.

The militants are going door to door as they inquire about married and unmarried women in the houses, The Independent reports.

 "I told them that there were only two women in the house and both were married. They said that many of their mujahedin [fighters] were unmarried and wanted a wife. They insisted on coming into my house to look at the women's ID cards [which in Iraq show marital status]," Abu Lahid said.

The militants are terrorising not just the unmarried women but even those who were already married.

A woman and his husband was reportedly whipped as the woman was seen wearing a headscarf and not the niqqab cloak that hides the whole body.

The militants had also imposed severe rules on women's acceptable clothing and rules against women watching television and smoking in coffee shops.

The men who joined resistance against them were crucified.

Meanwhile, a report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that children as young as 15 were used as frontliners during battles by extremist Islamist groups, including ISIS.

The children act as snipers, guards on checkpoints, 'nurse' to the wounded on battlefields and bringers of supplies to those who are fighting.

The rebel groups recruited the children with the promise of free schooling that includes trainings on weapons and suicide bombings, according to the report.

HRW interviewed children who admitted fighting with Free Syrian Army, the Islamic Front coalition, and the extremist groups ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, as well as the military and police forces in Kurdish-controlled areas.

The exact number of children fighting with the rebel groups cannot be determined, but the the Violations Documenting Center, a Syrian monitoring group, had documented 194 deaths of "non-civilian" male children in Syria since September 2011.

"Majed," 16, mentioned someone named Jabhat al-Nusra in Daraa who recruited him and other boys in his community with the promise of free schooling.  Majed told HRW that commanders were giving children instructions to volunteer for suicide bombing.

 "Sometimes fighters volunteered, and sometimes [commanders] said, 'Allah chose you'," Majed said.

 "Saleh," 17, revealed he fought with the Free Syrian Army at 15, but only after he was detained and tortured by government security forces.

After the experience, he joined two rebel groups.

 "I thought of leaving [the fighting] a lot. I lost my studies, I lost my future, I lost everything," Saleh revealed.

The HRW were only able to interview 25 boys, although there had were information saying that the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) police force and its armed wing had enlisted girls to guard checkpoints and conduct armed patrols in Kurdish-controlled areas.

 "Syrian armed groups shouldn't prey on vulnerable children - who have seen their relatives killed, schools shelled, and communities destroyed - by enlisting them in their forces. Horrors of Syria's armed conflict are only made worse by throwing children into the front lines," Middle East children's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch and author of the report, Priyanka Motaparthy, said.

Some rebel groups denied the allegation on the HRW's report and promised to look into the issue within their organisation.

The Western-backed Syrian National Coalition said that it is conducting an investigation regarding the HRW's report.

 "We take such allegations extremely seriously and are committed to ensuring that anyone responsible for the voluntary or involuntary recruitment of children is held to account," the group told HRW in a letter.

"We never arm a young man, or give him the opportunity to join the Front, including the Ahrar Al-Sham Islamic movement, except after a thorough check of his documents, to ascertain he's over 18," The Islamic Front, a coalition of several rebel factions, told HRW.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Stringer / REUTERS/Stringer)
Children, who fled from violence in Mosul, stand inside a camp on the outskirts of Arbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region, June 20, 2014. Iraqi forces were massing north of Baghdad on Friday, aiming to strike back at Sunni Islamists whose drive toward the capital prompted the United States to send military advisers to stiffen government resistance.
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