Fifteen teenagers - 11 boys and four girls, all aged 17 - have been deployed to fight in Iraq since June 2003, the Ministry of Defence confirmed yesterday.
The Defence Minister Adam Ingram revealed the figures in a written answer to the House of Commons. He said new procedures had been introduced to ensure that under-18s were not deployed to war zones.
He added: "Unfortunately, these processes are not infallible and the pressures on units prior to deployment have meant that there have been a small number of instances where soldiers have been inadvertently deployed to Iraq before their 18th birthday."
According to Mr Ingram, the "vast majority" were deployed within a week of their 18th birthdays or were removed from theatre less than a week after their arrival.