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Turkish MFA reacts strongly towards contradictory US accusations on the use of child soldiers

Turkey strongly rejected the decisions of the annual Trafficking in Persons report of the US State Department, in which it was accused of providing operational, equipment and financial support to an opposition group in Syria, in addition to being added to the list of countries recruiting child soldiers.

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In a statement made by the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Friday, the allegations that ascribe responsibility to Turkey for the recruitment of children were totally rejected.

The statement, which describes the decision as the most “striking example of double standard and hypocrisy,” underlined the US’ open support of the the YPG/PKK terrorist organization, which has been proven to recruit children in Syria and Iraq.

In addition, the statement reads: “While ignoring the serious crimes committed by this terrorist organization, which the US has partnered with in Syria, provided training and weapons, abducting children and giving weapons not only in Syria but also in many parts of Iraq including Mahmur and Sinjar, making such baseless accusations against its ally, with which it is in close coordination in many regional issues, is a grave contradiction and not acceptable.”

Late on Thursday, in a move likely to complicate the already tense ties between Ankara and Washington, the United States placed Turkey on a list of countries accused in the use of child soldiers.

Based on the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report published on Thursday, Turkey provided “tangible support” to opposition groups in Syria, which recruited and used child soldiers.

The decision resembles similar reports made on the YPG/PKK terror group by international organizations stating it forcefully recruits and uses child soldiers from refugee camps.

The US reiterates its support to the YPG/PKK at every opportunity, and continues to support the terrorist organization in many issues, including weapons aid.

The 2020 report of the US Lead Inspector General cites US State Department research that concluded the Syrian affiliate of the PKK terrorist group has been forcing minors to undergo military training. Rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also revealed information that the YPG/PKK were forcing children to pick up arms.

Statistics from the UN Office of Children and Armed Conflict indicate that the YPG/PKK recruited 224 children in 2017, 313 children in 2018, and a total of 300 children between 2019 and 2020 until September.

According to Turkish analysts, the accusation reminded them of the United Nations report on the YPG/PKK terrorist organization, recalling that the US had previously admitted to the YPG/PKK using children during the civil war in Syria, but continued its support regardless by providing weapons aid. Based on this, the same analysts also suggested the US should include itself in the same report.

Local people living in areas under the occupation of the YPG/PKK have long suffered under the terrorist organization, as it possesses a notorious record of human rights abuses, ranging from kidnappings, recruitment of child soldiers, torture, ethnic cleansing and forced displacement, all reported by various international groups and non-governmental organizations.

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