DAMASCUS (Dispatches) – A new report to the U.S. Congress by the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Defense has criticized the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militants’ ongoing practice of recruiting child soldiers, with the militant forces reportedly promising to stop doing so since at least 2014.
"Considerable additional detail on the SDF’s actions to end the use of child soldiers subject was provided in the [Department of State] Country Report on Human Rights Conditions section for Syria for 2019, issued in March 2020, but the report also notes allegations that children were still being forcibly conscripted and that at least one 14-year-old boy was killed in fighting in Baghouz in early 2019,” the report indicates.
"Each year’s edition of the DoS Country Reports…since 2014 have contained similar promises by Kurdish entities partnered with the United States to end the use of child soldiers, and each report notes that their use apparently continued,” the document notes.
Commenting on this state of affairs for the report, the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs said that this was an issue "limited more to the YPG [so-called Kurdish People’s Protection Unit militias] rather than the SDF or internal security forces as a whole.”
The Pentagon’s quarterly report, compiled for the period running April 1-June 30, 2020, also criticizes the U.S.’s NATO ally Turkey, citing a U.S. European Command assessment calling Turkey a "major facilitation hub” for Daesh terrorists even as the country simultaneously engages in "counter-ISIS (Daesh) activities.”
"USEUCOM said that the Turkish action ‘impacted ISIS’s ability to smuggle fighters, funds and supplies’, but it noted that the difficulty of securing Turkey’s border with Syria and Iraq ‘likely ensures’ that Daesh will continue to move supporters and family members across the borders,” the report suggests.
The report also points to allegations of human rights abuses by Turkish-backed militants in northern Syria, including "arbitrary detentions, extra-judicial killings, seizure of and resettlement of new populations in private properties, the repeated and deliberate shutting off of water access to half a million civilians, and transfer of arbitrarily-detained Syrians across and international border into Turkey.”