Insurgents are increasingly using teenagers to stage attacks against American and Iraqi security forces, the US military said Saturday.
At least five suspects ages 14 to 19 have been involved in grenade and suicide attacks in recent weeks in northern Iraq, according to the statement.
The military has frequently said it believes al-Qaida in Iraq and other insurgent groups are recruiting children and women because of their ability to avoid scrutiny and evade heightened security measures.
But Saturday's statement was the first to provide detailed allegations of specific teenage attackers in what the military called "a growing trend of children carrying out attacks on Iraqi security and US forces."
It said a teenage boy threw a grenade at a joint US-Iraqi patrol in Hawijah, west of the disputed northern city of Kirkuk, on Thursday, then fled the scene when it failed to detonate.