YPG/PKK recruited 221 child soldiers in Syria: UN report

The YPG/PKK terrorist group continued to recruit child soldiers last year in northern Syria, according to a UN report released Monday. 

The group, which rebranded itself as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by the US and Western nations recruited 221 child soldiers, said the annual Children and Armed Conflict report by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The report covers the period from January to December 2021 and lists parties that engage in the recruitment and use of children, the killing and maiming of children and sexual violence against children, among other things.

The report also said another branch of the YPG/PKK, the so-called "Internal Security Forces" recruited 24 children as soldiers in northern and eastern Syria. In addition, the "Afrin Liberation Forces," linked to the same terror group, recruited two children in 2021.

According to the report, the "Internal Security Forces" jailed 43 children, while the YPG/PKK imprisoned six children in regions they occupied.

"At the end of 2021, over 800 children, including foreigners, reportedly remained in detention for alleged association with Da’esh in the north-eastern Syrian Arab Republic," said the report, referring to YPG/PKK-run prisons.

The report also recorded that the YPG/PKK killed 55 children in 2021, while the "Internal Security Forces" and "Afrin Liberation Forces" killed 18 children last year.

It also reported attacks on 45 schools and hospitals in Syria, saying 26 of them were carried out by the Bashar al-Assad regime and pro-government forces while 12 of them were attributed to the YPG/PKK terror group.

The group also seized 12 schools and hospitals for military use. It also denied humanitarian access for children.

The report said the highest numbers of grave violations were verified in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

"The number of cases of abduction increased by over 20 per cent and cases of sexual violence against children continued to increase, by over 20 per cent," said the report.

"The number of attacks on schools and hospitals increased by 5 per cent in a context of school closures, the military use of schools and disregard for children’s right to education and health, and the situation was compounded by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic," it added.

The report said non-state armed groups were responsible for 55% of violations and state forces for 25%.

"And the remainder of the violations resulted from crossfire, the use of improvised explosive devices, explosive remnants of war and landmines, or were committed by unidentified perpetrators," it said.

"Over 25 per cent of child casualties resulted from improvised explosive devices, explosive remnants of war and landmines, for a total of 2,257 child casualties," it added./aa