ISIS orders all boys over the age of 14 in Syria to sign up for draft

A young boy beheads a Syrian Air Force pilot in an ISIS propaganda video.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has reportedly ordered all men and boys over the age of 14 in Raqqa to register their names and addresses with local police.

The orders have led to fears that the group plans to expand their military conscription as anti-ISIL forces try to reclaim Raqqa.

Al Jazeera reports that the order, which was posted on buildings across the city, states that the men and boys who refuse to comply by Thursday will face some undetermined consequences.

While conscription was not specifically mentioned, the order comes amid reports of an Arab and Kurdish coalition, backed by the United States, preparing to launch an operation to remove ISIL from Raqqa, a town the group has held since 2013.

“There is a fear that men of the city will be dragged into this grinding war they have no hand in, with the primary goal of protecting ISIL,” said Hamoud al-Mousa, an activist from Raqqa now living in Turkey.

The fear of having their sons take up arms for ISIL has forced some parents to consider sneaking them out of the area. But trying to sneak their sons out of the area has its risks.

The punishment for crimes like defection by military age men is quite severe, ranging from public lashings to execution.

This is not the first time residents of ISIL-controlled areas in Iraq and Syria have expressed concern about military conscription. In Raqqa, residents have previously reported that ISIL authorities have ordered men between the ages of 15 and 25 to register their names with nearby mosques.

Men that fall within the age group have also been barred from leaving ISIL controlled territories to travel to Syrian government-held areas, due to fears that they might take up arms with the government army.

It is currently unclear if the orders that men of fighting age should register their names and addresses has anything to do with the shortage of ISIL troops in Raqqa. In recent weeks, ISIL military positions have come under attack from U.S. fighter jets and drones as part of the international anti-ISIL coalition effort.

There have also been reports of defections in recent months, with former fighters complaining about the militant group’s brutality, corruption, violence against fellow Sunni Muslims, and terrible living conditions.

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