By Gamze Turkoglu Oguz and Nilay Kar Onum
ANKARA (AA) - As the Turkish-led Operation Olive Branch continues in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region, young people forced by the terrorist PYD/PKK to take up arms told their stories of how they were recruited by the terror group and what they endured.
Speaking to Turkish state television TRT Kurdish, a 10-year-old boy who did not give his name said: “The YPG forced me to take up arms and then they sent me to training. I stayed there for 12 days."
The YPG is the armed wing of the PYD/PKK.
"On the 13th day, I escaped from there together with [my friend] Bashir because they weren’t good people.
“No one came here of their own will. They made us get in cars and wanted us to sign a bunch of papers and then made us wear camouflage. Nobody joined [the YPG] willingly."
Another boy who didn’t give his name said that his father couldn’t stop the terror group from taking him.
“My father didn’t accept them recruiting me. They insisted on recruiting us and my father argued with them, but he couldn’t stop them from bringing me here,” he said.
“The YPG and PKK need to leave Afrin,” he said, adding: “It’s the people who are suffering.”
- Kidnapped in a sack
A 16-year-old boy who called himself Orik said that it was when he crossed into Turkey during eid to see his sister that he was caught by the terror group.
“Actually, I crossed over into Turkey. I came to Turkey in order to see my older sister during a festival. The YPG caught me and told me I would take up arms, even forcibly. They put me in a big sack and took me to the fighting by a car,” Orik recalled.
“They brought all of us forcibly,” he added.
“The PKK persecuted everyone, beat us up, and brought us here by force. We didn’t come here willingly. It's clear which people here came willingly.”
“I’m only 16 and I was forcibly pushed into a war which I don’t know,” he added.
Orik also said that the terror group has nothing to do with Islam.
“They forbid you praying. You can’t go to the mosque. If you do, they beat you up and persecute you.”
“What I want is our life to return to normal. Let the YPG leave us.,” he said. “They’re carrying out activities in four countries but they can’t. In the end they’ll be defeated.”
- 'They arm very young children'
“One day they stopped me and told me that I would take up arms,” said another boy who did not give his name and age, adding that he had been minding his own business before then.
“I didn’t want such things to happen. I don’t have any problem with Arabs, Turks, or Christians. We could live here like brothers,” he said.
“What happened when they recruited us? What happened when we fought?” the young boy asked.
“They armed even a baby still nursing in its mother’s arms,” he added.
Another boy, an 18-year-old, said that he was forced by the terrorist group to take up arms when his other family members, including his mother, were threatened.
“They took me in the guise of compulsory military service. My father is dead. I need to feed my family. I told them: I have nobody and need to take care of my family,” he said.
“They told me that you need to come into the service. If you don’t come then we’ll take your younger brother or sister. If they don’t want to come, then we’ll take your mother. One person from every family has to do military service,” he added.
At least 1,028 PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists have been "neutralized" since Operation Olive Branch in Syria’s northwestern region of Afrin began on Jan. 20, according to the Turkish General Staff on Thursday.
The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.
The military also said the "utmost care" is being taken to avoid harming civilians.
Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without a fight.