China is headhunting former British pilots to train its forces, and the UK military is desperate to stop it, officials say

  • The UK says its military pilots are being recruited by China to help train Beijing’s army.
  • A Ministry of Defense official told Insider that the country is trying to stop these efforts.
  • According to British media reports, pilots are making as much as $270,000 a year for their help.

The UK is trying to stop China’s military from recruiting current and former military pilots for training purposes, a defense official said on Tuesday, but it’s been having a tough time doing so.

“We are taking decisive steps to stop Chinese recruitment schemes attempting to headhunt serving and former UK Armed Forces pilots to train People’s Liberation Army personnel in the People’s Republic of China,” a UK Ministry of Defense spokesperson told Insider.

Citing Western officials, British media reported on Tuesday that as many as 30 jet and helicopter pilots have been recruited by China for annual salaries of up to $270,000. According to the BBC, China wants to use the pilots to deepen its understanding of Western planes and their operators.

Sky News reported that Beijing has been seeking pilots from various branches — like the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, and British Army — and also wants to recruit people from other Western countries. To warn military personnel against these efforts, the defense ministry’s defense intelligence service even issued a “threat alert” on Tuesday, the report said.

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U.S.-backed Syria force seeks help with Islamic State prisoner ‘time bomb’

FILE PHOTO - A member loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa, Syria June 29, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

By Ellen Francis and Philip Blenkinsop

BEIRUT/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Hundreds of foreign jihadist fighters held in Syria represent a “time bomb” and could escape and threaten the West unless countries do more to take them back, the Kurdish-led, U.S.-backed authorities holding them said on Monday.

The fate of foreign fighters who joined Islamic State, as well as of their wives and children, has become more pressing in recent days as U.S.-backed fighters plan an assault to capture the last enclave of the group’s self-styled Caliphate.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday European countries must do more to take them back or “we will be forced to release them”. But European countries say there is no simple solution. Fighters must be vetted and prosecuted if they return.

“It is clearly not as easy as what has been put forward in the United States,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Monday ahead of a Brussels meeting with EU counterparts. “These people could only then come to Germany if we can ensure they are immediately put in custody. It’s not clear to me how all that can be guaranteed.”

Abdulkarim Omar, co-chair of foreign relations in the region held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, said authorities there were holding some 800 foreign fighters. Around 700 of the fighters’ wives and 1,500 of their children are also in camps. Dozens more fighters and family members are arriving each day.

“It seems most of the countries have decided that they’re done with them, let’s leave them here, but this is a very big mistake,” Omar said. Their home countries must do more to prosecute foreign fighters and rehabilitate their families, “or else this will be a danger and a time bomb”.

European officials complain that dealing with the fate of the detainees has been made more complicated by Trump’s abrupt announcement in December that he plans to pull out the 2,000 U.S. troops protecting the area where they are being held.

“At this stage France is not responding to (Trump’s) demands,” French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet told France 2 television. “There is a new geo-political context, with the U.S. withdrawal. For the time being we are not changing our policy.”

Omar, the official in the Kurdish-led Syrian region holding the prisoners, said the authorities would never release the fighters, but they could escape in future, especially if the area comes under attack. The Kurdish-led forces are worried about a potential attack from Turkey once U.S. troops leave.


With U.S. help, the Kurdish-led militia are poised to seize Islamic State’s last holdout in eastern Syria. At the height of its power four years ago, Islamic State held about a third of both Iraq and Syria in a self-proclaimed Caliphate.

Bringing militants and their families back home is deeply unpopular in European countries, many of which have suffered militant attack in recent years. European countries say their diplomats cannot operate in an area where Syrian Kurdish control is not internationally recognized.

Pleas from women to return with their children — such as Shamima Begum, a pregnant 19-year-old who left London as a schoolgirl to become an Islamic State bride — have stirred up debate in their home countries. Omar said the Kurdish authorities had not been contacted by Britain over her case.

European security services worry returnees will prove a burden on state resources and may radicalize others.

“We have all done everything in our power to lock these people up. This announcement from Trump, I cannot comprehend,” Austria’s Foreign Minister Karin Kneissel said in Brussels.

Belgium’s justice minister called on Sunday for a EU-wide approach to the issue, pointing to doubts the Kurds will be able to maintain control over their territory without U.S. support.

“The Kurds … could be attacked by the Turks,” Justice Minister Koen Geens told public broadcaster VRT on Sunday. “If the IS fighters are released then we do not know what will happen with them. Control is better than total freedom.”

Several countries are already working quietly to repatriate minors on a case-by-case basis.

Of more than 5,000 Europeans — most from Britain, France, Germany and Belgium — who went to fight in Syria and Iraq, some 1,500 have returned, according to police agency Europol.

(Additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel, Richard Lough, Caroline Pailliez, Gabriela Baczynska and Joseph Nasr; Writing by Peter Graff)

Islamic State pinned in tiny eastern Syria enclave with families, U.S. backed force says

FILE PHOTO: Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) celebrate the first anniversary of Raqqa province liberation from ISIS, in Raqqa, Syria Ocotber 27, 2018. REUTERS/Aboud Hamam/File Photo

By Rodi Said

QAMISHLI, Syria (Reuters) – Islamic State fighters in eastern Syria are pinned down in a final tiny pocket with their wives and children, forcing a U.S.-backed militia to slow its advance to protect civilians, the militia said on Tuesday.

An aid agency said separately that 10,000 civilians had fled the enclave since last week and were arriving hungry and desperate at a camp.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which have been backed by 2,000 U.S. troops and air support, are preparing for a final showdown with Islamic State in eastern Syria after helping to drive the fighters from the towns and cities that once formed the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate.

SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said Islamic State fighters were now confined to a pocket of just 5-6 square km (around 2 square miles) by the Euphrates River. The presence of their wives and children meant the U.S.-backed militia could not launch an all-out storm of it, and was using slower, more precise tactics instead.

“There are thousands of Daesh families there. They are civilians at the end of the day,” Bali told Reuters, using an acronym for Islamic State. “We cannot storm the area or put any child’s life in danger.”

The SDF had refused an offer from the jihadists via mediators to surrender the territory in return for safe passage out, Bali said.

Clashes had slowed because of the presence of the civilians, and “precise operations” were taking more time. “Calm prevails on the frontlines but there’s a state of caution and waiting.”

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) charity said it was helping tend to a sudden influx of more than 10,000 people, almost all women, children and elderly, who had arrived at a camp in northeast Syria since last week.

Most were exhausted, extremely hungry, and thirsty as they fled Islamic State territory, the global aid agency said. Many arrived barefoot. The United Nations confirmed that 12 young children had died after reaching the al-Hol camp or on the dangerous journey there, the IRC added on Tuesday.

The SDF, spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG militia, has seized much of north and east Syria with U.S. help. It has been battling Islamic State remnants near the Iraqi border for months.

Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump declared that Islamic State had been defeated and announced the abrupt withdrawal of the U.S. troops, over objections of top advisors including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis who quit in protest.

The SDF vowed to escalate its operations against Islamic State this month after a bomb attack killed several people including two U.S. soldiers in northern Syria. SDF officials have warned of an Islamic State revival if Washington withdraws.

Kurdish leaders also fear a U.S. pullout would give Turkey, which sees the YPG as a threat on its border, the chance to mount a new assault. Washington has since said it will make sure its allies are protected when it leaves.

(Reporting by Rodi Said in Syria and Ellen Francis in Beirut; Editing by Peter Graff)

Cubs of the Caliphate: rehabilitating Islamic State’s children

Yazidi students are seen at school in the Sharya camp, in Duhok, Iraq February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Ari Jalal

By Raya Jalabi

RAWANGA CAMP, Iraq (Reuters) – While children who have been through war typically draw devastating pictures of the violence they have suffered, few show themselves as the perpetrators.

The suicide belts, car bombs and other explosives sketched again and again by a 14-year-old boy newly arrived at this camp in northern Iraq are the ones he built himself: used by Islamic State militants against civilians and troops in Iraq and Syria.

One image depicted him killing a man with a spray of bullets, something he said he did during three years as a child fighter forcibly conscripted by Islamic State.

Yazidi students draw with the psychologist at the psychotherapy centre in the Rawanga camp, in Duhok, Iraq February 25, 2018. REUTERS/Ari Jalal

Kidnapped from his Yazidi homeland in northern Iraq, he said he got used to the sound of bombs falling on Islamic State’s de facto capital, Raqqa, in Syria, as security forces closed in last year.

“Here’s where I got shot fighting the SDF,” said the boy, not named to protect him from retribution, referring to the U.S.-backed rebel Syrian Defense Forces and pointing out a bullet wound on his shin.

Giving him time to draw and talk about his experience is part of a treatment program to help him move on and protect both him and others from lasting damage.

Hundreds of children are estimated to have been used as fighters by Islamic State, including boys who joined with their families or were given up by them and the offspring of foreign fighters groomed from birth to perpetuate its ideology.

Experts have warned that indoctrinated children, who began escaping the clutches of Islamic State as its territory fractured last year, could pose an ongoing threat to security, both regionally and in the West, if they are not rehabilitated.

Treating Yazidi children, who were separated from their families and in many cases orphaned, holds particular challenges.

Yazidi students wait for the therapist at the psychotherapy centre in the Rawanga camp, in Duhok, Iraq February 25, 2018. REUTERS/Ari Jalal

Yazidi students wait for the therapist at the psychotherapy centre in the Rawanga camp, in Duhok, Iraq February 25, 2018. REUTERS/Ari Jalal


There is little in the way of specialized care for them in Iraq, where the minimum age of criminal responsibility is nine. The government has detained and prosecuted dozens of children for their suspected IS affiliation, according to a recent report by New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Naif Jardo Qassim, a psychotherapist treating children at Rawanga refugee camp near Dohuk emphasized that they are “victims and not criminals,” and should be treated as such.

Highlighting the scale of the task, Yazidi teacher Hoshyar Khodeida Suleiman recounts the story of one of his students, a young boy reunited with his family in the autumn.

A few days later, the boy’s father woke up in the middle of the night to find his son wielding a knife to his throat, confused about whether he should kill his parents or himself.

“He was screaming that they were infidels and that he would rather die than be one of them,” Suleiman said.

When the militants overran Yazidi towns and villages in 2014, it killed or enslaved more than 9,000 adults and children in what the United Nations has called a genocidal campaign against a religious minority labeled heretic by Islamic State.

It sold girls and women into slavery, marrying some off to fighters, and trained many boys to join the ranks of what it called the Cubs of the Caliphate, posting videos of them committing atrocities in the name of its self-declared state.

Most of the children returned, not home, but to displacement camps in northern Iraq, where they live with relatives – their parents either missing or killed by the militants.

“Everything changed while they were gone,” said Qassim. “That’s if they even remember anything from their lives before.”

Adding to that instability is the weight of the traumas they have endured.

“These children have seen their families killed, or were kidnapped, beaten and brainwashed,” he said. “In some cases, they witnessed executions, were forced to kill or were raped, multiple times, for years.”

Qassim works for Yahad In-Unum, one of a handful of international NGOs which has set up a children’s center in the camp, where children can receive psychological treatment, ranging from talk to art therapy.

They also come to play, said Qassim, “and remember how to be children again”.

Yazidi students draw with the psychologist at the psychotherapy centre in the Rawanga camp, in Duhok, Iraq February 25, 2018. REUTERS/Ari Jalal


Qassim’s six-month-old center is currently treating 123 children, a mix of girls and boys all under the age of 18, recently returned from Islamic State-held territory.

“When they first come back from captivity, the children can often be aggressive, violent, confused and angry,” he said, adding that many of the children were forced to forget their native Kurdish. “That quickly dissolves into anxiety and deep depression, as the trauma begins to settle in.”

The center devises a treatment program for each child, which involves both individual and group therapy sessions.

“We slowly work to undo the years of brainwashing they were subjected to,” said Qassim. “We want them to forget the last few years and start again.”

He said all the children he has treated were successfully “de-indoctrinated”, adding, “no child is beyond saving”.

The relative novelty of so-called deradicalization programs means opinion is divided over their effectiveness; Laila Ali, spokesperson for UNICEF in Iraq which supports such services, says rehabilitation is “absolutely possible”.

Some children are harder to reach than others, particularly those who have forgotten life before IS.

One 10-year-old boy was smuggled out of Syria just three and a half weeks ago and has since been living with his uncle in the camp. Shy at first, he became animated when describing his “accomplishments” during his fighter training in Deir Ezzor, Syria and said he is not sure his current life is better.

Qassim says he exhibits confusion about whether he should denounce Islamic State’s teachings. He and other children sneak off to pray in the toilets, unconvinced they will not get in trouble with Islamic State for shirking religious obligations.

Qassim says he is hopeful he will be back to normal soon.

Some face new humiliations on their return. “I had to move in with my relatives because my parents said they would never accept me back because of what I did,” said one former fighter, now aged 15.

Qassim is the only psychotherapist at his center and the work takes its toll. “It’s very difficult to hear children tell you these stories – of rape, of combat, of killings… In my life, I’d never heard such horrors.”

With little in the way of funds or a roadmap, some community members have pitched in to help in their own ways.

Suleiman aims to rehabilitate Yazidi children at Sharya refugee camp near Dohuk by “reconnecting them with their Yazidi faith”, with an emphasis on “humanity and human decency”.

On a rainy afternoon in late February, they came to class in traditional clothes he had given them: white dresses and scarves with black and gold headbands for the girls; trousers, matching waistcoat and red and white keffiyeh scarf for the boys.

“It’s a simple thing,” he said. “But the clothes are a reminder of who they are and where they come from.”

(Reporting by Raya Jalabi; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

Hezbollah to send more fighters to Syria’s Aleppo

Hezbollah leader

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement said on Friday it will send more fighters to Syria’s Aleppo area, a battleground where it has suffered heavy losses fighting alongside Syrian government forces against insurgent groups.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said thousands of Hezbollah’s Sunni militant foes had recently entered Syria via the Turkish border with the aim of taking over Aleppo and its surrounding countryside.

“We are facing a new wave…of projects of war against Syria which are being waged in northern Syria, particularly in the Aleppo region,” Nasrallah said in a speech broadcast live on the group’s Al Manar TV.

“The defense of Aleppo is the defense of the rest of Syria, it is the defense of Damascus, it is also the defense of Lebanon, and of Iraq,” he said.

“We will increase our presence in Aleppo,” he said. “Retreat is not permissible.”

Shi’ite, Iranian-backed Hezbollah has long supported President Bashar al-Assad against mostly Sunni insurgents.

Aleppo has been a focus of intensified fighting in the months since peace talks in Geneva broke down and a ceasefire deal brokered by Washington and Moscow unraveled. Russia intervened in the five-year-old conflict in September with an air campaign to support Assad.

“It was necessary for us to be in Aleppo … and we will stay in Aleppo,” Nasrallah said.

Aleppo city is split between government and rebel control. Russian and Syrian warplanes have pounded a road leading from the rebel-held areas north towards the Turkish border. That major rebel supply line from Turkey to Aleppo city was effectively cut by government advances earlier this year.

A pro-Damascus source recently told Reuters government forces and their allies are trying to encircle rebels in the Aleppo area. Assad, for whom the recapture of Aleppo would be a strategic prize, has vowed to take back “every inch” of Syria from what he calls terrorists.

Russia’s intervention has helped government forces and their allies advance against insurgents, and separately against Islamic State, in some areas.

But some of those battles have been costly, including around Aleppo.

Islamist insurgents including the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front in May inflicted heavy losses on a coalition of foreign Shi’ite fighters including Iranians and Hezbollah members south of Aleppo.

Nasrallah said that 26 Hezbollah fighters had been killed in June alone, a rare acknowledgment of the toll their involvement is taking. Several of its senior military commanders have died in the Syrian conflict, alongside hundreds of fighters.

Nasrallah also denied Hezbollah was in imminent fiscal trouble as a result of a U.S. law targeting the group’s finances. The law, passed in December, threatens to bar from the American financial market any bank that knowingly engages with Hezbollah. It has ignited a standoff between Hezbollah, a dominant political force in Lebanon, and the Lebanese central bank.

(The story is refiled to change city to area in lead)

(Reporting by John Davison and Laila Bassam; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Iraq’s all-female combat unit seeks revenge on Islamic State

Iraqi Kurdish female fighter Haseba Nauzad (2nd R), 24, and Yazidi female fighter Asema Dahir (3rd R), 21, aim their weapon during a deployment near the frontline of the fight against Islamic State militants in Nawaran near Mosul, Iraq,

By Emily Wither

NAWARAN, Iraq (Reuters) – When Islamic State swept into the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar in 2014, a few young Yazidi women took up arms against the militants attacking women and girls from their community.

“They took eight of my neighbors and I saw they were killing the children,” Asema Dahir told Reuters last month at a checkpoint near a front line north of Mosul.

Dressed in military fatigues, the 21-year-old is now part of an all-female unit in the Kurdish peshmerga forces, which have played an important role in pushing back Islamic State in northern Iraq.

The killing and enslaving of thousands from Iraq’s minority Yazidi community focused international attention on the group’s violent campaign to impose its radical ideology and prompted Washington to launch an air offensive.

It also prompted the formation of this unusual 30-woman unit made up of Yazidis as well as Kurds from Iraq and neighboring Syria. For them, only one thing matters: revenge for the women raped, beaten and executed by the jihadist militants.

Dahir said she was stunned by the brutality of the militants, some of whom were neighbors and others from outside the area.

“They killed my uncle and took my cousin’s wife who had only just married eight days earlier,” she said, her piercing eyes clouding over. The bride, like thousands of other Yazidi women, is still being held by the militants.

For matching Wider Image pictures, please click on:

During the firefights that raged across Sinjar in 2014, Dahir said she killed two Islamic State fighters before being shot in the leg. Reuters could not independently verify the fighters’ personal accounts.

Well-worn photographs of children and families tucked into the edge of mirrors or pressed onto walls in the women’s spartan barracks are reminders of what they have sacrificed to join the fight.

Haseba Nauzad, the unit’s 24-year-old commander, lost her marriage. She was living with her husband in Turkey when Islamic State swept through northern Iraq and announced its so-called caliphate over areas that included traditional Kurdish lands.

“I saw them raping my Kurdish sisters and I couldn’t accept this injustice,” Nauzad said.

Her husband wanted to pay human smugglers to take them to Europe along with more than a million others fleeing conflict in the region, but she insisted on going home to fight the Islamists.

“I put my personal life aside, and I came to defend my Kurdish sisters and mothers and stand against this enemy,” she said. She has lost contact with her husband since he arrived in Germany.

In a conservative society where women are often expected to stay at home, these women say gender does not keep them from entering battle.

“If a man can carry a weapon, a woman can do the same,” said Nauzad. “The men are inspired to fight harder when they see women standing in the same battlefield as them.”

The women in the unit are convinced Islamic State militants are scared of women fighters “because they think if they are killed by a woman, they will not go to heaven,” said Nauzad.

“This story encourages more women to join the fight.”

(Writing by Stephen Kalin; editing by Ralph Boulton)

Scarred Yazidi boys escape ISIS combat training camp

The Wider Image: Yazidi boys escape Islamic State training

QADIYA, Iraq (Reuters) – When nine-year-old Murad got the chance to flee from Islamic State – the group that repeatedly raped his mother and slaughtered or enslaved thousands from his Yazidi minority – he hesitated.

So powerful was the indoctrination during his 20-month captivity in Iraq and Syria that the boy told his mother he wanted to stay at the camp where Islamic State had trained him to kill “infidels”, including his own people.

Now in the relative safety of Kurdish-controlled territory, Murad’s mother told Reuters how she had struggled to persuade her son – like other Yazidi boys being prepared for battle – to escape earlier this month with her and his little brother.

“My son’s brain was changed and most of the kids were saying to their families ‘Go, we will stay’,” she said, declining to give her name. “Until the last moment before we left, my son was saying ‘I will not come with you’.”

Yazidi boys appear to be part of broader efforts by Islamic State to create a new generation of fighters loyal to the group’s ideology and inured to its extreme violence. The training often leaves them scarred, even after returning home.

Islamic State, known by its opponents in Arabic as Daesh, captured Murad, his mother and brother in August 2014 at their village near the Iraqi town of Sinjar. During that offensive, the radical Sunni Muslim group massacred, enslaved and raped thousands of Yazidis, whom they consider to be devil-worshippers.

The United States launched air strikes against the militants partly to save the survivors and last month said the attacks on Yazidis, whose faith combines elements of Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Islam, and other groups amounted to genocide.

More than a third of the 5,000 Yazidis captured in 2014 have escaped or been smuggled out, but activists say hundreds of boys are still held.

Dressed in a long brown skirt and matching headscarf, the mother described how Murad had finally agreed to escape, allowing people smugglers to spirit the family by a convoluted route to a refugee camp near the northern Iraqi city of Duhok where they are living now.

Murad, wearing a jersey of the Spanish football club Real Madrid, sat with his mother on the floor of a spartan trailer in al-Qadiya camp, twiddling his thumbs and resisting answering questions.


Most of the time Murad’s mother managed to stay with her two sons as Islamic State shuffled them around cities and towns in its “caliphate” spanning the borders of Iraq and Syria. These included its de-facto capitals Mosul and Raqqa, as well as the ancient city of Palmyra which has since fallen to Syrian government forces.

“They were teaching the children how to fight and go to war to battle the infidels,” the mother said, adding that those to be killed included Shi’ite Muslims, the peshmerga forces of Iraqi Kurdistan and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia.

Islamic State dressed the boys in the same long robes they wore, and trained them how to use guns and knives. “They were assessing them for how well they had learned to fight. Daesh then showed the families videos of killing. Among them they saw their sons also taking part.”

Islamic State also forced Murad to pray, study the Koran and sit through extremist religious lessons, according to his mother, who said she had been beaten as well as raped by at least 14 men.


A 16-year-old boy taken from the same village south of Sinjar recounted similar treatment. He spent two months in a religious school where Islamic State taught its ultra-hardline ideology which labels most outsiders as infidels and has been denounced by senior Muslim authorities.

“They told us, ‘You are Yazidis and you are infidels. We want to convert you to the true religion so you can go to heaven’,” said the teenager, who withheld his name and wrapped his head in a scarf, fearing retribution against his brother and father still under Islamic State rule.

The teenager said he was made to work in a sweatshop with other boys, sewing military clothes for the fighters.

Around 750 other children have escaped in recent months but a few thousand more remain missing, according to Yazidi activists Khairy Ali Ibrahim and Fasel Kate Hasoo, who document crimes against their community.

Twenty-five children who escaped from Islamic State training camps have since passed through Qadiya, 10 km (6 miles) south of the Turkish border, but only six remain, they said. The rest have sought refuge in Europe, joining the wave of migrants fleeing conflict across the region.


Murad’s family escaped when the fighter who had “purchased” his mother left the house where she and the boys were staying to get food. Put in contact with the people smugglers by a friend, they spent the night at a safe house before a nine-hour journey by motorbike to territory held by Syrian Kurds.

After three nights in the town of Kobani on the Turkish border, they made their way to Iraqi Kurdistan.

For boys who have reached relative safety, new burdens await them and their families. Most Yazidis have had to spend small fortunes on smugglers’ costs to rescue loved ones – Murad’s family raised $24,000 to get the three home.

Many families take small loans from relatives and neighbors, who later demand repayment. Promises from charities and government agencies to help cover those costs have fallen through, they say.

There are also psychological costs.

Murad’s mother said she could tell her boys had been traumatized by the ordeal.

Her younger son, five-year-old Emad, speaks little but plays peek-a-boo and trots in and out of the room. Murad is clearly more affected: he rarely smiles, struggles to maintain eye contact, and fidgets constantly.

The teenager who was put to work in the sweatshop says he was mature enough to brush off Islamic State’s brutality.

“I was dealing with them only because I was afraid, but now that I’m back, I’m just like I was before,” he said. A cousin, though, later admitted his reintegration had not been easy, declining to go into details.

Children introduced to Islamic State’s ideology are likely to consider it normal and defend its practices, according to Quilliam, a London-based anti-extremism think tank.

“They are unable to contribute constructively to their societies because they do not develop the ability to socialize,” it said in a report last month.

The Yazidi children at Qadiya need regular psychological treatment which remains out of reach, said the activist Hasoo.

“Most of the boys after fleeing tried to implement Daesh’s ideas,” he said. “There were cases of children wanting to kill one of their friends in the camp. Others would play out the actions they had been trained on.”

(Additional reporting by Mahdi Talat and Emily Wither; Writing by Stephen Kalin; editing by David Stamp)