ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Hashd al-Shaabi is recruiting child soldiers in the surrounding areas of Kirkuk in preparation for the post-Islamic State (IS) era in Iraq.
A Kurdistan 24 correspondent visited a Hashd al-Shaabi training camp in the Bashir area, a Shia-populated village in southern Kirkuk, where children undergo military training by the Shia commanders.
Abu Jaafar, a commander in the Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), told Kurdistan 24 “the training is for the new recruits who are aged 15 and older.”
However, footage recorded by Kurdistan 24 at the Hashd al-Shaabi training camp shows some soldiers even younger than 15.
“The purpose of recruiting the adults is to protect our areas from any kind of threats and participate in the Hawija operation,” the PMF commander said.
“Wherever their services are needed by the Hashd al-Shaabi, they are ready for duty,” he added.
According to a Kurdistan 24 reporter, since their presence in surrounding Kirkuk, Hashd al-Shaabi have doubled their troops in the area.
In June, US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, revealed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson planned to take Iraq off Washington’s list of countries who are involved in the exploitation of children in war.
According to the United Nations Security Council resolution, the recruitment and use of children during conflict is one of the six grave violations against youth.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Reported by Soran Kamaran from Kirkuk)