BAGHDAD, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- The Iraqi army has ordered children in some areas to surrender all toy guns so they are not mistaken for insurgents by patrolling soldiers.
In Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of Baghdad, local army officials have ordered children to give up their toy guns so they are not taken for combatants by American and Iraqi troops, The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.
For their part, British soldiers in the southern Iraqi province of Basra have issued a public safety announcement asking parents to stop their children from playing with toy guns in the streets "in case security forces mistake them for real weapons and open fire."
Maj. Bill Young, a British Army spokesman, said the issue of play guns has emerged for the first time since the war started in 2003.
"Maybe last year children wouldn't have been out on the ground and their parents wouldn't have let them play with the toy guns," he said. "But there is still a risk with a significant number of British and Iraqi troops on the ground with weapons."
The British newspaper reported the U.S. Army has released several videos seized from suspected al-Qaida hideouts in Diyala province that show militants training children who appeared to be as young as 10.