Claim: ISIS militants have been beheading children in Iraq and Syria.
Examples: [Collected via e-mail, August 2014]
Isis is Beheading Children is trending on Facebook. Can someone please confirm this is true or not? There appear to be horrific photos on a catholic website and some mention on CNN as well.
Origins: One of the many atrocity stories associated with the armed clash between the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) jihadist group and government forces in Syria and Iraq is the claim that ISIS militants have been killing and beheading even children (or specifically Christian children) in the areas they occupy, where they reportedly give
"There is a park in Mosul, where [ISIS] they actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick and have them in the park," he explained. "More children are getting beheaded, mothers are getting raped and killed, and fathers are being hung."
The site Catholic Online has also published graphic photographs said to depict atrocious acts of violence carried out ISIS forces, such as the crucifixion of
That site has also published multiple photographs detailing the reported brutal executions of (adult) Iraqis:
The tribe was to be left alone, but reportedly its leaders chafed under IS control and its members staged an uprising, driving IS terrorists from at least two villages. The IS returned with a vengeance, capturing and executing anyone suspected of participating in the uprising.
To the Islamic State, these men are traitors to their cause. As such, they were treated brutally.
The series of images, released on Twitter, is now being shared with you, our readers, uncensored. We are sharing these graphic images to raise worldwide awareness of what is happening in Iraq and Syria as these Muslim terrorists conduct genocide against all who refuse to submit to their will.
Others maintain that such claims are largely fiction and are just more of the usual exaggerated atrocity stories typically circulated as propaganda during wars to sway public opinion against one side (and in this case provide a prompt or justification for U.S. military intervention). For example, the picture of the decapitated girl shown above had been circulated two years earlier as an example of an atrocity committed by the Assad government in Syria when a helicopter gunship reportedly opened fire on unarmed civilians.
Accounts of ISIS forces killing non-combatants, including children, have been put forth by multiple western news media outlets and human rights groups. Human Rights Watch, for example, reported that:
Residents and local officials said the victims were Syrian Arabs who had been displaced from the countryside around the city of Aleppo.
While everyone is focused on ISIS’s advances in Iraq, they’re also committing atrocities in Syria, including gunning down civilians,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “ISIS flouts the law, executing civilians at will, while Russia and China paralyze UN Security Council action.”
Details of the killings on May 29 were difficult to obtain because many al-Taliliya residents were afraid to talk. A doctor at the hospital in Ras
CNN similarly relayed accounts from Human Rights Watch of atrocities against civilians by ISIS, including the killing of children:
The militants have summarily executed villagers and Iraqi soldiers alike, slaughtering a group of soldiers in Tikrit [in June 2014]. Human Rights Watch also said ISIS extremists reportedly killed
The UN News Centre also reported in June 2014 on "a number of verified summary executions and extra-judicial killings of civilians, police, and soldiers who were hors combat (i.e., disabled; no longer able to fight)" by ISIS forces:
According to the human rights team at the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), at least
“This figure — which should be viewed very much as a minimum — includes
At least an additional 318 people were killed, and
OHCHR is cautioning that abductions continue to be reported in the northern provinces and Baghdad, some of which have resulted in killings. There is also evidence of summary executions continuing to take place, the UN office continued.
ISIL has broadcast more than a dozen videos showing beheadings and shootings of hors combat soldiers and police officers, as well as apparent targeting of people based on their religion or ethnicity, including Shia and minority groups such as Turcomans, Shabak, Christians, and Yezidis.
Meanwhile, UNAMI has also received reports of abuses by Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), including at least two summary executions of prisoners. One of which, at the
UN human rights officers have, however, confirmed a reported summary execution by ISF personnel in Mosul. According to the account, personnel threw grenades into rooms filled with detainees in the Nineveh Operations Command, killing at least 10 and injuring another 14.
In November 2014, Andrew White, an Anglican priest known as the "Vicar of Baghdad," recounted on video the story of Iraqi Christian children who were reportedly told by ISIS militants to convert to Islam or be killed and then were beheaded after proclaiming "No, we love Yeshua (Jesus)."
Given the problematic nature of timely and accurate reporting from war-torn areas, the reluctance of inhabitants of those areas to put themselves in harm's way by openly speaking of what they've witnessed, the anecdotal nature of many such accounts, and the potential political motivations for various parties to demonize their opponents by promulgating false or less-than-accurate information, it's difficult at this point to accurately assess to what extent ISIS forces have been executing civilian children, whether they have specifically targeted Christian children (more so than any other
Last updated: 13 December 2014
Erdman, Shelby Lin et al. "Islamic Extremists Kill 270 in Attack on a Gas Field in Central Syria." CNN.com. 18 July 2014. Catholic Online. "ISIS Gleefully Trumpets Images Detailing Brutal Execution of Iraqis." 8 August 2014. Catholic Online. "ISIS begins killing Christians in Mosul, Children Beheaded." 8 August 2014. Human Rights Watch. "Syria: ISIS Summarily Killed Civilians." 14 June 2014. UN News Centre. "Iraq Violence: UN Confirms More Than 2,000 Killed, Injured Since Early June." 24 June 2014.