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Syria National Army rebel coalition signs action plan with UN to prevent child recruitment

June 5, 2024 at 9:00 pm

Syrian National Army (SNA) members hang a Syrian National Army flag, in Tal Abyad, Syria on 17 October, 2019 [Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images]

The Syrian rebel coalition known as the Syrian National Army (SNA) has signed an action plan with the United Nations to prevent and end the recruitment of child soldiers.

In an announcement on Monday by UN’s Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, the SNA – formerly known as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) before becoming a coalition of opposition groups in Syria – and the militias, Ahrar Al-Sham, and Jaysh Al-Islam, signed the plan to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers within their ranks during the ongoing Syrian conflict.

By signing the action plan, the groups commit to “end and prevent the recruitment and use and the killing and maiming of children, to issue command orders to this effect, identify and release children currently within their ranks, and to put in place preventative, protective and disciplinary measures for the recruitment and use and killing and maiming of children.”

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Throughout the 13-year-long conflict, many of the numerous groups, militias and factions fighting on either of the myriad of sides have been infamous in employing the use of child soldiers, with some such as the Kurdish militias being especially known to forcefully recruit and kidnap minors in doing so.

The SNA has been one of the key players involved in child recruitment, with a report two years ago revealing that it was responsible for a vast majority of minors recruited by armed factions in Syria.

Following the signing of the action plan, Special Representative, Virginia Gamba, who took part in the signing on behalf of the UN, hailed the development. “I welcome the commitment of the opposition SNA, including Ahrar Al-Sham and Army of Islam, and their aligned legions and factions to sign this action plan,” she said. “This is an important step towards better protecting Syria’s children, who continue bearing the brunt of the consequences of 13 years of armed conflict.”