Up to 400 abducted Yazidi children are reportedly being trained as potential suicide bombers by Isis.
Kurdish authorities told CNN they had evidence 600 children were kidnapped from Iraq’s Sinjar province and the surrounding Yazidi villages, but that 200 had managed to escape.
The news channel reported there were now fears Isis was using them to bolster its numbers after it came under pressure following the recapture of Ramadi by Iraqi forces at the end of last year.
It said Isis had put its most experienced fighters on the front lines and was using child soldiers to plug the resulting gaps in sentry positions and its suicide bomb squads.
A 12-year-old boy who escaped the group’s clutches told CNN he had been trained by the group to be a suicide bomber.
He said: “There were 60 of us. The scariest times for us all were when the airstrikes happened. They’d lead all of us underground into the tunnels to hide.
“They told us the Americans, the unbelievers, were trying to kill us but they, the fighters, they loved us. They would look after us better than our parents.
“When they were training us they would tell us our parents were unbelievers and that our first job was to go back to kill them.”
He said the youngest boy in the camp was just five years old and that they were dubbed “cubs of the caliphate” by their trainers.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told the Independentthere had been 29 suicide attacks carried out by child suicide bombers in Syria over the past four months – but stressed they were not all necessarily Yazidi children.