Iraq crisis: Children with guns seen with Isis militants in chilling new footage

Boys were seen with assault rifles alongside Islamist militants

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The Independent Online

Isis could be using children to fight on its frontline as it continues to push through Iraq.

Footage of a convoy of the rebels passing through Mosul on Tuesday showed young boys toting what appeared to be assault rifles and sitting in trucks full of militants.

US weapons and ammunition were among the hoard looted from Iraqi army stockpiles when soldiers fled.

Human Rights Watch claims that Isis fighters in Syria have already recruited children as snipers but their role in Iraq has not been confirmed.

The number of children killed in the growing conflict in Iraq so far is unknown but footage has shown them being drawn into the bloodshed by both sides.

On Tuesday, images emerged of children apparently being encouraged by Isis forces to watch executions.

Across the divide, pictures from Baghdad showed children with guns apparently joining adult Shia volunteers in the fight against the extremists.

Isis (short for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has left a trail of destruction in a bloody sweep down from northern Iraq and controls several cities as well as swathes of land.

Atrocities including beheadings, executions and massacres have been reported and thousands of civilians fearing for their lives have fled.

The insurgency has drawn support from disaffected Iraqi Sunni Muslims who are angry over perceived mistreatment by the Shia-led government.

It has highlighted deep religious and ethnic divisions in Iraq and the Kurdish President, Masoud Barzani, believes people are facing “a new reality and a new Iraq”.

The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, urged Kurdish leaders to stand with Baghdad to fight Isis but Mr Barzani said it was “very difficult” to imagine Iraq staying together.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki defiantly rejected calls for an interim “national salvation government” hoped to draw Sunni support away from Isis.

Barack Obama had challenged him to create a more inclusive government or risk his country descending into sectarian civil war.

Additional reporting by agencies