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PKK/YPG terrorists admit to recruiting child soldiers

By signing pact with UN, PKK/YPG admits to long-documented war crime of recruiting and using child soldiers as young as 11

Büşra Nur Bilgiç   | 02.07.2019
PKK/YPG terrorists admit to recruiting child soldiers

ANKARA 

The terrorist organization PKK/YPG admitted to committing the war crime of recruiting child soldiers after signing a scandalous agreement with the United Nations.

Virginia Gamba, the UN secretary-general's special representative on children in armed conflicts, met with a PKK/YPG terrorist over the weekend in Geneva and signed a deal to end the recruitment of child soldiers.

In 2017 the U.S., which considers the PKK a terrorist group, helped change the YPG’s name to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in order to dissociate it with the PKK. A terrorist using the SDF label signed the UN pact.

With the agreement, the PKK/YPG, which has long been known to recruit children age 11-16, admitted the crime for the first time.

The PKK/YPG has established a special unit in northern Syrian regions controlled by the terrorist group to seek out and recruit child soldiers, Anadolu Agency reported during Turkey’s successful Operation Olive Branch against terror groups.

The memory cards of cameras seized during the operation in Syria's Afrin region, launched on Jan. 20, 2018 against YPG/PKK-Daesh terrorists, show children -- age 11-16 -- bearing arms, training with weapons, and living in poor conditions in the mountains.

It was also learned last October that Yasemin Arif, 17, who was recruited by the PKK/YPG when she was just 14, lost her life during clashes in Deir ez-Zor, eastern Syria.

War crime

In 1977 the Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions prohibits the military recruitment and use of children under age 15.

“Children who have not attained the age of fifteen years shall neither be recruited in the armed forces or groups nor allowed to take part in hostilities,” says the 1977 Additional Protocol II.

This crime by the terrorist PKK/YPG, which tries to replace slain terrorists with children, has not gone unnoticed by international human rights groups.

In 2015, the U.S. Trafficking in Persons Report said Kurdish children were sometimes kidnapped and forced to participate in PKK forces, according to uncorroborated reports.

In the 2016 report, the U.S. said the YPG/PKK continued to recruit and use boys and girls, including children younger than 15.

According to the report, the YPG/PKK reportedly took the children to indoctrination and training camps.

In April 2015, a 16-year-old girl in Aleppo was allegedly recruited by the YPJ/PKK -- the terrorist group’s women’s branch -- against the wishes of her family, said the report.

The YPG/PKK’s forced recruitment of children was also documented in reports of German-based Kurdwatch.

In May 2015, Kurdwatch said the PYD/YPG/PKK kidnapped 12-year-old Fatimah S.A.

Last August Human Rights Watch (HRW) said there was a “disturbingly high increase in child recruitment” by the PKK/YPG.

The group called on the terror group to “immediately demobilize children in its ranks and stop recruiting children, including from families in displacement camps under their control.”

The PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, resulting in the deaths of nearly 40,000 people. The YPG is its Syrian branch.

The YPG has managed to occupy one-third of Syria under the guise of fighting against Daesh with U.S. air support.

Over the last two years, Turkey’s Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations liberated the region from YPG/PKK and Daesh terrorists, allowing hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians to return to their homes.

*Busra Nur Bilgic in Ankara contributed to this story

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