The Islamic State in A-Raqqa issued an announcement on Thursday giving males over the age of 14 one week to register their names with the religious police or risk punishment, in what locals fear is a preliminary move towards conscription.
The announcement comes amidst ongoing preparations by both IS and joint Kurdish-FSA forces for an expected battle for control of A-Raqqa city, the provincial capital and seat of the Islamic State’s self-styled caliphate in Syria.
While the text of the order does not mention conscription, 14 is “when military training begins” for IS recruits, Abu Ibrahim a-Raqqawi, spokesman for the Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently media campaign tells Ammar Hamou.
Q: Why do you believe this announcement is a step towards conscription?
The IS request to register the names of males over the age of 14 is a new step, as is the designation of a deadline for the registration under threat of punishment for those who fail to do so.
The Lion Cubs [child recruits of IS] training camps start with sharia courses from ages eight to fourteen, which is when military training begins.
Therefore, people of a-Raqqa are fearful that this announcement is intended to send young men to fight on the fronts, since there is no good reason to register the names of young men other than for fighting.
Q: How have people dealt with this declaration?
As I mentioned, there are fears that its goal is conscription. Because of this, a number of families are considering sending their sons away, afraid that they will be hauled off to the fronts.