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Swedish first as mother convicted of letting son, 12, become child soldier in Syria

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By Euronews
In this Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013 photo, smoke rises after a bomb was thrown from a helicopter, hitting a rebel position during heavy fighting in Idlib province, Syria.
In this Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013 photo, smoke rises after a bomb was thrown from a helicopter, hitting a rebel position during heavy fighting in Idlib province, Syria.   -   Copyright  AP Photo

A Swedish woman has been convicted for failing to stop her 12-year-old son from fighting in Syria in 2013.

The 49-year-old suspect was found guilty of war crimes and violating international law, the Stockholm court said in a statement.

Prosecutors had alleged that the woman enabled her son to be recruited by the so-called Islamic State (IS) and used as a child soldier from the age of 12 until he turned 15.

The court said she "did not act adequately to prevent" him from being recruited to fight in Syria, and sentenced her to six years in prison.

"She did not want to prevent it, his role as a child soldier was in line with her beliefs", the court added.

It marks the first time that war crimes charges have been brought in Sweden for child soldier offences.

Prosecutors said the boy was "used to directly engage in hostilities perpetrated by armed groups, including the terrorist organisation IS". The teenager, named Joan, had died in the conflict in 2017, aged 16.

There is an "absolute ban" on using children under the age of 15 for direct participation in armed conflict, including using children as couriers, guards or bait, prosecutors say.

An estimated 300 Swedish nationals or residents are believed to have joined IS in Syria.

Additional sources • AP, AFP