HRW: Islamic State tortured captive children in Syria


The Human Rights Watch (HRW) monitoring group has published a report saying that the Islamic State militant group tortured Kurdish children it had kidnapped from the Syrian city of Kobani.

The report sites witness statements from children who were part of a group of 153 boys kidnapped as they were returning to their homes in Kobani after taking exams in the city of Aleppo.

“Since the beginning of the Syrian uprising, children have suffered the horrors of detention and torture, first by the Assad government and now by ISIS,” said Fred Abrahams, special advisor for children’s rights at Human Rights Watch. “This evidence of torture and abuse of children by ISIS underlines why no one should support their criminal enterprise.”

Kurdish refugee children from the Syrian town of Kobani sit behind a fence in a camp in the southeastern town of Suruc on the Turkish-Syrian border (photo: Reuters)

The children, aged 14 to 16, were later released by the militants who, according to witnesses, said that they had completed their “religious training”.

“The children were subjected to videos of ISIS’s battles and beheadings and made to watch these,” said HRW’s senior Turkey researcher Emma Sinclair Webb. “They also subjected the children to religious education and a strict regime of prayer and study, and also subjected the children to regular beatings and torture.”

Webb added that the children believed by the Islamic State to have relatives fighting for Kurdish forces received the worst treatment from their captors.

“The children told us those perceived by ISIS captors as being close to the YPG were singled out for the worst treatment,” she said. “And the worst forms of torture included placing children inside a tire and beating them in that position and also suspending children, their hands tied behind their backs and feet tied up and suspending them from the ceiling.”

Webb said that despite the children’s release, their ordeal is not yet over as they cannot return to their homes in Kobani, as it is currently under siege by Islamic State forces who are trying to take the city from the hands of the US coalition-backed Kurdish forces.