In this photo released on April 25, 2015 by a militant website, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, young boys known as the "lion cubs" hold rifles during a parade after graduating from a religious school in Tal Afar, near Mosul, northern Iraq. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based organization that follows the Syrian war, said it documented at least 1,100 Syrian children under 16 who joined IS so far this year, many of whom were then sent to fight in Syria and Iraq. Image Credit: AP

Arbil: An International human rights group says Iraqi militias are recruiting children from camps for civilians displaced by conflict ahead of the long-awaited operation to retake militant-held Mosul.

Human Rights Watch said Tuesday, citing testimony from witnesses and relatives, that two tribal militias in the Kurdish region of Iraq recruited children from a camp south of Irbil and drove them away to a town near Mosul.

The group said the recruits are intended to reinforce frontline positions in Nineveh province, where Mosul is located.

Iraq’s prime minister has pledged that Mosul will be retaken from Daesh this year. After a string of territorial defeats over the past year, Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, is the last major urban territory Daesh holds in the country.