Child recruitment top strategy of YPG in northern Syria
Date: 2019-04-20 11:27
The PKK's Syrian affiliate, the People's Protection Units (YPG), has increased efforts to recruit more children in the face of Turkey's imminent operation east of the Euphrates and Ankara-Washington negotiations on a safe zone to eliminate the terrorist organization. Citing security sources, Anadolu Agency (AA) reported late Thursday that the group set up a special unit in YPG-controlled territories to search for children and youths to take up arms.
Pointing out that following the Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield cross-border operations into northern Syria, the source noted that YPG recruitment peaked, taking at least one young person from every house in the Hasaka governorate, which is mostly populated by Arabs.
To ensure the commitment of the children, the YPG makes children and youngsters addicted to drugs, so they can later be used as suicide bombers and fight on the front lines. The AA noted that families who want to get back their children are threatened and exposed to deadly acts by the organization.
In relation to the issue, Murat Aslan, an academic at Hasan Kalyoncu University, told Daily Sabah: "The YPG's affiliate in Turkey had long recruited children in the southeastern region of the country in the past.
But now their propaganda and methods do not work in Turkey. Thus, they use these methods in Iraq and Syria where people have not witnessed the true face of the terrorist organization.
Recruiting children is a violation of Children Rights and Human rights, recognized by the UN and a war crime under international law. Yet, despite having signed a pledge of commitment with an international organization in June 2014 to demobilize all fighters younger than 18 years old, the YPG recruited and trained children as young as 12 years old in 2016. In 2018, a UN annual report on children in armed conflict revealed 224 cases of child recruitment by the YPG between January and December in 2017, a fivefold increase compared to previous years.
Human Rights Watch also documented that the terrorist organization continues to recruit children despite objections from families and children while preventing families from getting in touch with their children. The organization documented 59 children soldiers between the ages of 10 and 15, adding that the YPG confirmed integrating children into the organization.
Meanwhile, according to local sources speaking to AA, Russian consultants and Assad regime militias are meeting with the YPG in northwestern Syria's Tel Rifaat.
Sources said that the regime militias can freely enter the city through YPG checkpoints and hanged their flags in some buildings and on a hill a week before. The sources underlined that the terrorist organization aims to cement its power in the city with cooperation.
The YPG also has been using the city as a military base to attack territories previously liberated by Turkey. Ankara is also trying to expand liberated areas by setting up a safe zone for the people of Syria following the US withdrawal from the region.
Washington and Ankara have been discussing the possibility of setting up a 32-km deep safe zone, free from all terrorist elements, including the YPG, along the Syrian-Turkish border after Washington's pull-out from the country. Ankara asserts that the safe zone should be administrated by Turkey to ensure full elimination of security concerns.
Based on Daily Sabah