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Report: YPG/PKK recruiting child soldiers in Iraq and Syria

January 13, 2019 at 10:59 am

Members of the People’s Protection Units (YPG),in Syria on 11 September 2018 [Souleiman/AFP/Getty Images]

The Turkish news agency, Anadolu, claims that Kurdish rebels have been forcibly recruiting children between ages 11 and 16 years old.

Anadolu Agency released a report on Friday which, they claim, shows that the PKK has been kidnapping children to use them in attacks, allegedly, as they have done for many years.

According to the report, the PKK separates minors from their families to fight illegally in the north of Syria and Iraq.

The report by Anadolu Agency cites the “Trafficking in Persons Report”, published by the US in July 2015, which stated that PKK sometimes kidnaps Kurdish children or forces them to join the terrorist group. The same report, updated and published in June 2016, says that PKK’s Syrian branch PYD/YPG recruited and used boys and girls younger than 15 years and took them to training camps.

Andaolu Agency further claimed that in addition to the US, several international human rights organisations and NGOs drew attention to the PKK’s inhumane attitude.

The Middle East Monitor has not be able to verify Anadolu Agency‘s claims.

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A report by Human Rights Watch published on June 19, 2014 says that YPG used boys and girls younger than 18 at checkpoints in Afrin, Ayn al-Arab (Kobane) and Jazira provinces in Syria. In addition, the UN’s Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic said in their report in August 2013 that YPG recruited 12-year-old boys and girls in Afrin and Al-Hasakah provinces.

A Human Rights Watch report published on July 10, 2015 says that PYD/YPG did not fulfil their commitment to stop using minors in clashes.

According to Anadolu Agency, the YPG and YPJ [YPG’s female unit] recruited minors and made them fight and some children were killed in July 2015. YPG admitted that this group recruited 16 and 17-year-old children but it said that they did not use them for military purpose.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court says that recruiting and using persons under 15 years of age is regarded as a war crime.

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