Titled “Turkey’s involvement in the recruitment of children from the areas it occupies in northern Syria,” the Maat Foundation stated in a report released today that the repeated failure of the international community to act effectively to protect civilians in Syria it has encouraged Turkish mercenaries to commit systematic war crimes and other violations of international law, including the recruitment of children.
‘Turkish mercenaries recruit children by force’
The “Maat” report indicated that mercenaries use complex patterns to forcibly recruit children and drive them to war in the various areas it controls in northern Syria, killing and wounding hundreds of them.
The report confirmed Turkey’s direct involvement in the recruitment of children to fight in northern and eastern Syria, and the transfer and use of these children to fight in Libya to support the Government of National Accord, Turkey’s political ally, through the use of security companies working to recruit children under the age of 18 to participate in armed hostilities, especially in Libya.
“Maat” warned that “children are used at the front as direct combatants, or in security services such as inspection of border points, or logistical support related to military operations, in addition to working to serve older combatants, in addition to spying. ”.
What reinforced the emergence of the phenomenon of child recruitment – according to the report – the presence of a group of social factors, the most prominent are; the lack of funds, awareness and education, which facilitated the recruitment of these children on an ideological basis.
The report noted that “in April 2020 the Turkish mercenaries sent two children to carry out a bombing operation on military concentrations of the Syrian Democratic Forces in northern and eastern Syria, who were no more than 15 years old, disguised as Sheep herders, as one of the two children blew himself up before reaching one of the military points, while the Syrian Democratic Forces managed to arrest the second child, who was injured.
For his part, the director of the Maat Foundation, Ayman Aqil, said that “Turkish mercenaries in northern and eastern Syria were involved in the recruitment of some 1,316 children during the period from 2014 to 2019, according to UN reports. and the monitoring of the Maat Foundation “.
He added: “This matter violates all the international conventions and treaties that prohibit the recruitment of children in armed conflicts, and the related actions derived from them.”
Aqil revealed that Turkey had “sent some 380 children after being recruited by loyal mercenaries in northern Syria to fight in the various conflict areas involved, especially Libya, resulting in the death of about 25 of them.”
‘Turkey ignores international agreements’
Maat Foundation researcher Muhammad Mukhtar confirmed that Turkey, despite its adherence to most international conventions that prevent the recruitment of children under the age of eighteen, either directly or indirectly, ignores these letters, agreements and resolutions. international organizations, and provides full support to its mercenaries in northern and eastern Syria, in order to recruit children to participate in armed conflicts.
‘Turkey’s crimes in Afrin’
In a previous report, the Maat Foundation monitored Turkey’s crimes in occupied Afrin, especially; Attempts to erase identity, systematic displacement, resettlement of foreign mercenaries and extrajudicial executions.
Ayman Aqil said: “Turkey began to bring about a demographic change that includes the establishment of its mercenaries in Afrin instead of the indigenous peoples.”
He continued: “This came together with the renaming of government and service buildings to Turkish names, representing the destruction of cultural identity in the region and perpetuating the ongoing Turkish occupation process in the Afrin region.” .
It should be noted that the Maat Foundation for Peace, Development and Human Rights is an Egyptian non-governmental organization that works to promote and respect human rights in Africa and the Middle East.