Hundreds of kids caught up in violent conflict through no fault of their own appear to be stuck in a prison in northeast Syria. They are believed to be held in Gweiran Prison, a facility that has been the focal point of a violent standoff between Islamic State (IS) militants and US-backed Kurdish fighters for over a week.
Word of their plight reached beyond the prison walls when voice notes sent by an Australian teenager reached the Human Rights Watch, a nonprofit group comprised of 450 people across 70 countries that works to protect “those most at risk, from vulnerable children and minorities at risk during wartime,” according to their mission statement.
The messages, which Human Rights Watch provided to the Associated Press, were recorded by a 17-year-old Australian boy from inside the prison. He appealed for help, saying he had a head injury and was bleeding. He said his friends were killed and he had seen bodies of kids ranging in age from 8 to 12.
The children’s devastating plight began long ago, when they originally became involved in IS forces through various means. Some kids got roped into the fighting life when their parents joined the so-called Islamic caliphate that was declared in 2014 in parts of Syria and Iraq. Some kids were born there, and many attended IS-run schools where they were trained for combat from a young age.
IS carried out massacres against locals and forced many women and girls into slavery. They also strove to reeducate young boys and turn them into jihadi fighters when possible. They used gifts, threats, and brainwashing to recruit children and teens. Once they joined IS forces, boys killed for the cause and carried out suicide bombing missions. IS has videos depicting children beheading or shooting captives.
This was all part of their organized effort to create a new generation of IS militants. IS called these kids “cubs of the caliphate.”
During a campaign that brought down IS three years ago, Kurdish-led forces captured some of these child soldiers and put them in squalid, overcrowded detention centers. Many remain there still, even though they have not appeared before a judge or been accused of a crime. Other kids were transferred to holding camps in northeast Syria that hold families of suspected IS fighters. In these camps, kids are exposed to more violence, exploitation, and abuse. When they are teenagers, they’re separated from their families and transferred to a detention center, where they join the verified fighters captured after IS fell.
The Kurdish government has asked countries to repatriate their nationals and take the kids back to their home countries, but many have refused. They view these children, with their heavy IS influence and potential fighting experience, as liabilities rather than rescues. Roughly 600 underage boys were inmates in the Gweiran prison.
Kurdish-led (and therefore American-backed) forces said that last week they took control of the last section of the prison controlled by IS militants and liberated children who were used as human shields. Dozens on both sides have been killed in the series of battles, displacing thousands of nearby civilians. The fighting has left many child inmates killed or wounded. Exactly numbers are not known.
3 thoughts on “Hundreds Of Forgotten Kids Were Trapped In Syrian Prison”
I’m sorry for them but its their parents who were at fault by leaving them.
America has enough violence crossing our borders illegally.
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Hundreds of forgotten kids and other U.S. citizens and refugees are STILL trapped in Syria! O’biden left them there when he turned tail and abandoned all of our citizens, soldiers, airmen, marines, sailors to the mercy of the taliban and others. That was after he made so many errors when our citizens were trying to maintain some semblance of order before biden’s knee jerk reaction that led to an abject failure at “rescuing” our citizens and those who were seeking asylum. C’est la vie! Biden’s an abject failure! IMHO
FJB! JET’S GO BRANDON!