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A 20-year-old Islamic State fighter executed his mother in front of hundreds in the Syrian city of Raqqa.

According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, she had asked her son to leave the militant group and flee the city with her.

He shot his mother in a central square as others watched.

U.S. defense officials say people living in areas controlled by the Islamic State are increasingly forced to join the terrorist group.

In Raqqa, a city of 400,000 people, the militant group requires all men and boys at the age of 14 to register with the “Islamic police” for service.

Intelligence experts say that more than 34,000 foreign fighters from 120 countries have joined the group in Syria and Iraq. An official says that at least 6,000 of those fighters are Westerners. These numbers show a small increase since October 2015.

Patrick Skinner is a security expert with the Soufan Group. He says Western nations have made it harder for people, mostly young men, to join the militant group. But he adds, “As long as people are willing to go there, they can get there.”

Young people are drawn to jihad, or Islamic holy war. There is also evidence that the jihad message continues to appeal to European youth and women.

David Sterman is an expert with the New America International Security program. He says the average age of a foreign fighter is 24. And many of them are teenagers.

Sterman adds, “Women continue to be quite well represented.”

The Washington Post reports that 1-in-6 young people who go to join the IS terrorists are young women. They see romance in the role of terrorist's wife, the newspaper reported.

U.S. officials say they are worried that Russia’s entry into the Syrian conflict would bring more militants to the fight. A counterterrorism official says, “It would not be surprising if ISIL features the Russian build-up as a tie into their apocalyptic narrative, and to help bridge the generational divide among jihadists with Moscow’s actions in Afghanistan and Syria as bookends.”

I'm Jim Tedder.

VOA News reported this story. Hai Do adapted it. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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