Human Rights Watch has accused the Islamic State of torturing and abusing Kurdish children from Kobane in northern Syria, before the jihadists’ autumn offensive to take over the city.

Human Rights Watch based its report on interviews with four Kurdish boys, aged 14 to 16, among the 153 abducted by the Islamic State on May 29 as they
travelled home to Kobane from school exams in Aleppo.

Syrian Kurdish officials said the Islamic State released the last 25 of the children on October 29.

Interviewed individually in Turkey, where they fled after their release in late September, the four boys described repeated beatings with a hose and electric cable, and being forced to watch videos of Islamic State beheadings and attacks.

The 153 boys were kept in Manbij, 55 km (35 miles) southwest of Kobane, after about 100 girls were released.

About 50 of the boys escaped or were freed between June and September, with about 15 of them exchanged for Islamic State fighters held by the Kurdish militia YPG. In late September, ISIS released about 75 of the remaining boys.

The interviewed boys said Islamic State guards at the Manbij school beat the children who tried to escape, did poorly in compulsory religious lessons, or were perceived as misbehaving. They said the jihadists were particularly abusive to the boys who had a relative in the Kurdish militia.

“It was really those whose families were close to the YPG who suffered most,” said one of the boys. “They [the Islamic State] told them to give them the addresses of their families, cousins, uncles, saying ‘When we go to Kobani we will get them and cut them up.’ They saw the YPG as kafir [unbelievers].”