Since 2015 when Deir Ezzor province fell to Daesh’s hands, they have been exploiting and conscripting children into their ranks in order to use them in the fight against those groups they regard as “apostates”. Sometimes child recruits are utilized by the group in VBIED operations and suicide attacks where a group of Daesh militants infiltrate into a specific area to kill as many of their “enemy” soldiers as they can before they get killed.
The organization relies mainly on Sharia and Quran memorization sessions. These are held in cities and towns of Deir Ezzor province, especially big cities like al-Mayadeen, al-Bukamal, al-Ishaara and al-Shaheel in east Deir Ezzor’s countryside. The aim is to indoctrinate and brainwash the child recruits into believing that the so-called self-declared Caliphate of Daesh is valid and that any other groups are totally on the wrong path which implies that they must be fought with any and all of the power available now.
13-year-old Omar from the city of al-Mayadeen in east Deir Ezzor’s countryside used to work in a slaughterhouse in the centre of the city where he met and knew a group of Daesh members who would later exploit his childhood and trick him into pledging his allegiance to the group.
Unfortunately, what happened with this youngster was that he left his job to join Daesh ranks and became one of their soldiers. After that, Omar went through military sessions in which he was paid 100 dollars a month. He spent at least two months in the group’s military training camp until the time of his deployment came and he was dispatched to the front of Deir Ezzor city where he was killed and later buried in al-Mayadeen city.
The mother of Omar says, “Omar is not the first victim of Daesh. 15-years-old Saleh had the same fate regarding recruitment, exploitation and brainwashing the child Omar was subjected to. Saleh was convinced that the group was right after attending several Sharia sessions arranged in rural Deir Ezzor. He knew another Egyptian child who also played a role in persuading Salah that Daesh followed the “right” version of Islam. Saleh became later a member of what is now known as “The Cubs of The Islamic Caliphate”. However, after spending few days with the group, Saleh changed his mind and fled to the FSA-held areas in northern Syria.
Saleh says, “The organization is very shaky from the inside, and many of its members commit actions labeled as illegal and forbidden by the official administration of Daesh. I escaped from their held territory because I was sure I would die if they deployed me to one of their fronts in Deir Ezzor.”
Another child from the city of al-Quriya named Abu Qutada joined the ranks of Daesh and transmitted intelligence information related to his brother who is affiliated with Ahrar Sham and is now in rural Idlib, which led to the immediate confiscation of his house in rural Deir Ezzor and arrest of his big brother whose fate remains unknown until now.
The deluded child Abu Qutada was killed in Iraq after being a Daesh member for twenty days. His body has not been handed over to his family yet because Daesh could not retrieve it from the Popular Mobilization held areas in Iraq.
Dozens of children from Deir Ezzor and its countryside still believe in the ideology of Daesh and fight for its cause. How will the families face this situation as they see their children being recruited by Daesh? What would be their reaction if Daesh were defeated in Deir Ezzor? It is really, a big dilemma that lacks a solution.