ISIS in Syria, in a last-ditch effort to protect themselves from U.S. airstrikes, is using children as guards outside of their bomb-making facilities, creating a “human shield” that they believe will protect them.
The Pentagon is well aware of the movements of ISIS in Syria, and even knows where some car bomb factories are housed. Their ability to strike them is limited, however, because ISIS chooses to operate in neighborhoods and surround themselves with civilians, most unwilling to help them or unaware of the dangers they face.
The use of children as human shields, however, is a particularly cowardly move, as ISIS leaders know the United States is trying to avoid civilian casualties that could undermine the war effort. It has led American forces to be more patient in striking targets.
According to Col. Ryan Dillion, a Pentagon spokesman, the United States military has seen videos of ISIS ordering children to stand guard outside of several bomb factories in Raqqa, an ISIS stronghold in Syria.
Dillon said while this has prevented coalition forces from directly striking the factories, American-led troops are able to take out many of the bomb-ridden vehicles before they reach crowds of civilians or Syrian Democratic Forces.
“We know of a particular factory where anything that drives out of there we’ll strike as soon as it’s clear and free from places where we think they’re going to have civilian casualties,” he said over the phone from Baghdad.
“We’ve also tried to crater main roads throughout the city so that these vehicle-born IEDs can’t just spring down a road at 50 miles-per-hour—they have to go around potholes and other things strewn across the streets.”
Dillon said a key reason the United States issued arms and antitank weapons to both Arab and Kurdish factions of the SDF is to enable local forces facing an eminent threat to blow-up vehicle-borne IEDs when American troops are unable attack in time.
More than 80 percent of the ISIS assaults against SDF forces over the past two months have been carried out using IEDs, according to Dillon.
The use of children as ISIS human shields is not new or unique for the terror group. In recent weeks, videos of children forced to serve ISIS have surfaced, showing them beheading prisoners and pledging to fight the United States.