NEW DELHI: A video purportedly released by the Islamic State shows young boys, presumably around 14 years old, shooting to death 25 men. The Islamic State said that the men were soldiers loyal to Syrian President Bashar al Assad captured in the city of Homs, and were shot dead inside Palmyra's amphitheatre.

Close up shots of the soldiers show them on their knees with their hands tied behind their backs; they seem to have been beaten. Hundreds of men in civilian clothes are visible watching the public slaughter on the steps in front of a stage with the backdrop of a large Islamic State flag.

This is not the first time that the Islamic State has used the historic amphitheatre for a public execution. Soon after the militants captured the ancient city of Palmyra in late May, the group beheaded 20 men in the same location in the world heritage site. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at the time that the residents near the site were rounded up and forced to watch the killings of the men, who the Islamic State accused of being government supporters.

The militant group has reportedly killed 200 people, including civilians, in and around Palmyra since it captured the city. As news broke of Palmyra’s capture, the question of the preservation of historic site was immediately raised. The theatre -- where the men were executed -- is pictured below.

Further, this recent execution develops on what is becoming another Islamic State trend -- namely, the use of young males to carry out executions. Other instances where young males have featured in executions include a video wherein a young boy shoots to death an Arab Israeli prisoner. A still from the video is reproduced below:

And whilst execution videos are not uncommon as far as the group is concerned, young males are a recent addition and seem to be featuring more and more frequently. Another incident was in January this year when the Islamic State released a video where two men -- described as Russian spies -- confess to attempting to assassinate the group’s leaders and infiltrate its networks. A young boy then comes into view and calmly shoots the men in the back of the head with a handgun.

Further, the militant group has been known to use children in other ways. In November, disturbing images appeared online depicting children holding decapitated heads and AK-47s under the title “cubs of the Islamic State,” according to media reports.

It also follows other disturbing images and videos, including “school of Jihad” graduates lined up before a stage, listening to a speaker, whilst a row of adults believed to be their parents look on.

Previously, the UN Human Rights Council found that Isis “has established training camps to recruit children into armed roles under the guise of education”.

“At the camps, the children recruited received weapons training and religious education,” the report reads. “The existence of such camps seems to indicate that ISIS systematically provides weapons training for children. Subsequently, they were deployed in active combat during military operations, including suicide-bombing missions.”

According to an UNHRC report, this recruitment and military use of children under the age of 15 constitutes a “war crime.”

Other rights organisations have also condemned the IS’ recruitment of children. Amnesty International accused the group of “robbing an untold number of young people of their childhood.”