In one of the most bizarre triumphs for the Iraqi security forces, General Abdelamir al-Zaidi revealed today that four children under the age of 14 were successfully captured by Iraqi special forces units in and around the northern city of Kirkuk.
Dubbed the “Birds of Paradise,” the children are accused of being linked to al-Qaeda, recruiting children to “carry out suicide attacks and to aid the terrorist groups in detonating roadside bombs.” Gen. Zaidi declined to offer further information about the arrests, citing the secrecy of the operation and ongoing investigations. He said other “suspects” had been arrested, however.
Last year the United States said that al-Qaeda was recruiting children and teaching them to carry out assassinations. It is unclear how many children have been recruited by the various militant groups in the nation, but at least 24 suicide bombings have been carried out by children at this point.
The six year long war has taken a particularly harsh toll on the children of Iraq, with a report issued last week showing that 39 percent of those killed in US and coalition air strikes were children, apparently a function of the large number of attacks in urban areas.