Administration of North and East Syria: We are committed to the protection of children, whether in Al-Hol Camp or elsewhere; Damascus has done nothing

NORTH AND EAST SYRIA — In response to the statement made by Syrian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bashar Jaafari to the U.N. Security Council accusing the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) of North and East Syria of misconduct and attempting to divide the country, the governing Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) of North and East Syria issued a public statement refuting Jaafari’s claims.

“Recently, the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Syrian regime, Bashar Jaafari, claimed a number of things about North and East Syria and the SDF which are untrue, specifically about the issue of foreign children in Al-Hol Refugee Camp and the supposed underage military recruitment,” read the statement.

“Jaafari has ignored the official reports issued by the United Nations in which the Syrian regime was declared responsible for the deaths of 7,000 children because of its policies and practices; reports from other organizations put the figure closer to 20,000,” continued the statement. “Not to mention the children who are still in Syrian security detention — we should not forget that the spark of the Syrian Revolution began when the intelligence and security forces of the Syrian regime, represented by Jaafari, pulled out the fingernails of children from Daraa and burned their bodies with cigarette butts.”

The DAA and SDF have signed an agreement with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict in June 2019 to demobilize any minors in the ranks of the SDF, read the statement, stressing that they are fulling committed to meeting their obligations under the agreement.

“As for Al-Hol Camp and Jaafari’s comments about the need to coordinate with Damascus on the mechanisms for handing over the children of Islamic State families, Damascus has done nothing to facilitate the handover of these children,” said the DAA. “Damascus seems unconcerned with this issue and has left it to the DAA to bear the burden and determine the procedures in this context.”

The fabrications that the Syrian regime and its officials are trying to pass on to the U.N. are nothing more than attempts to cover up their own misdeeds, mislead public opinion and evade its responsibilities, said the statement.

The DAA closed its statement with an appeal to the United Nations to hold the Syrian regime accountable for its mass violations of human rights.