Who Is Responsible for Arming Islamic State?

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Militant Islamist fighters on a tank take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014. Militant Islamist fighters held a parade in Syria's northern Raqqa province to celebrate their declaration of an Islamic "caliphate" after the group captured territory in neighbouring Iraq, a monitoring service said. The Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot previously known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), posted pictures online on Sunday of people waving black flags from cars and holding guns in the air, the SITE monitoring service said.  REUTERS/Stringer (SYRIA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)

Militant Islamist fighters on a tank take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province on June 30, 2014.  REUTERS/Stringer

By Susan Waltz, Military, Security, Police Co-Group, Amnesty International USA

Masked militants dressed head to toe in dark jumpsuits, lifting black flags and brandishing Kalashinov (AK-47) rifles: that is the now-iconic image of the armed group calling itself Islamic State (IS). Over the past few years IS has amassed a vast arsenal, which it has deployed to commit a staggering array of atrocities with open disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law. Without hesitation, the IS military campaign has targeted its small arms and artillery at civilians – abducting, torturing, raping, and summarily executing people across Iraqi and Syrian territory. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Save Children’s Lives by Stopping Illicit Weapons Worldwide

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Emmanuel Jal is a hip-hop artist and humanitarian, as well as a former child solider.

Emmanuel Jal is a hip-hop artist and humanitarian, as well as a former child solider.

Below is an open letter from hip-hop artist, activist and former child soldier Emmanuel Jal, urging President Barack Obama to push for a strong Arms Trade Treaty at the U.N. conference this month. This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

In Sudan and around the world, children are forced into warfare. Many end up as child soldiers, forced to take lives and continue the cycle of violence that they have been born into. Child soldiers are found today in as many as 20 countries.

I was one of them. I was fortunate enough to have escaped to Kenya and found another life through music. But the lives of many children are cut short before they can escape. The most difficult part of this situation is that these children do not have a choice when they are introduced, often after they have been orphaned, to a perpetual war zone and raised by the harsh reality of the violence around them.

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