It is hard for the militant group Islamic State (IS) to break new grounds of cruelty and brutality. But it succeeded on July 16 with a video showing a young child who appears no older than 10 purportedly beheading a Syrian Army officer.
Although IS has released previous footage of its use of children to kill prisoners and hostages, this is the first time that it has documented a child carrying out a beheading.
The video, released on the evening of July 16, shows militants and a child with a man who says he is a Syrian Army officer captured by IS near Palmyra in Homs Province, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which monitors the conflict in Syria.
One of the militants is filmed saying that IS's ultimate goal is to conquer Jerusalem and Rome.
The child then raises the severed head aloft before placing it on the victim's body.
The captive officer, whose hands are tied behind his back, is made to lie face down on the floor while the child stands over him, lifts his head by the hair, and cuts his throat with a knife before the scene is broken by an edit.
The child then is shown raising the severed head aloft before placing it on the victim's body.
IS's use of children to carry out execution-style killings is becoming more frequent.
The extremist group released a video earlier this month showing 25 Syrian government soldiers being shot by boys or young teenagers in a grisly public "ceremony" in the ancient city of Palmyra.
In a shocking video released in January, IS showed a child militant appearing to shoot two men accused of being Russian spies.
And in March, the group used a child aged about 12 to shoot dead a Palestinian man IS claimed was an Israeli spy.
IS has involved children in beheadings before. A video released in March showed a child distributing knives to an adult militant to be used at a mass beheading of at least five victims.
IS has also made children attend public execution-style killings, and has even filmed interviews with boys aged between 11 and 14 who were made to attend a public screening of a video showing Jordanian pilot Muadh al-Kasasbeh being burned alive.