By Beyza Binnur Donmez
ANKARA (AA) - The so-called allies of the U.S. in northern Syria, YPG/PKK terror group, has been slammed by human rights groups as well as the UN for its compulsive practice of recruiting minors, including boys and girls.
While U.S. President Donald Trump is opposed to strengthen the YPG/PKK at the expense of its NATO ally, Turkey, the Pentagon has partnered with the terror group in the so-called fight against Daesh in the region.
After strategic coordination with American officials, the YPG re-branded itself as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in July 2017 to dissociate itself with the PKK, which is recognized as a terror group by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.
A terror campaign by the PKK has waged against Turkey for more than 30 years, resulting in the deaths of nearly 40,000 people.
A 2018 UN report confirmed recruitment and the use of children by the YPG/PKK increased nearly five-fold, from 46 to 224, between 2016-2017.
"Nearly one third of the verified cases of children recruited by the group were girls (72) and 16 per cent were of Arab origin," the report said, adding that 70% of verified cases occurred in Aleppo, Hama and Idlib.
At least 166 children were deprived of their liberty by the SDF for their alleged affiliation with Daesh, while 29 cases of killing and maiming children were verified, according to the report
It added that six minors were abducted by the YPG/PKK for the purpose of forced recruitment.
Human Rights Watch confirmed the same year that the terror organization is still recruiting children for military training, despite pledges to stop using child soldiers.
"It’s especially horrendous that the group is recruiting children from the vulnerable families in displacement camps without their parents' knowledge or even telling them where their children are," said Priyanka Motaparthy, who is the acting emergencies director at Human Rights Watch.
The rights group called on the U.S. government, which supports SDF, to urge the terror group to end its use of child soldiers.
"The group should remove its reservation entirely, and stop recruiting anyone under 18," Motaparthy said. "The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict prohibits non-state armed groups from recruiting children under 18 for any purpose, including for military training."
Motaparthy stressed that even if children are fleeing domestic violence or poverty, the YPG/PKK is "not protecting them by recruiting them into their forces."
"If they are serious about helping these children, they should live up to their pledge and provide alternatives to ensure that the children don’t lose their future or their lives," she said.
In early July, the UN, without the knowledge of its member countries, signed a scandalous deal with the SDF to end the recruitment of child soldiers, proving once again that the terror group has extensively used children in its terrorist activities.
Virginia Gamba, the UN Secretary-General's special representative on children in armed conflicts, met with the YPG/PKK's so-called commander Mazloum Abdi in Geneva, which was immediately slammed by Turkish authorities who called it an effort to legitimize a terror group.