Turkish-backed Syrian National Army factions recruit children into their ranks

DAYRO ZCURO, HOLEB, and RAQQA, Syria — On Wednesday, Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ) issued a report in which it detailed the recruit of children by Harakat al-Tahrir wa-l-Binaa (Liberation and Construction Movement, LCM), a member of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA). The report documented 17 children who were recruited by LCM and undertook combat missions.

In its report, the organization relied on data from child soldiers, testimonies from families of some of the children, and SNA leaders.

The report indicated that the factions of Ahrar al-Sharqiyyah, Division 20, and Jaysh al-Sharqiya affiliated with the Liberation and Construction Movement, have added 800 new fighters to their ranks since the beginning of 2022. STJ calculated that the percentage of children among the recently recruited is as high as 40%.

The factions forge and manipulate the children’s personal data. Some parents also presented fake identities, which are issued from the civil registry centers of the local councils in the region.

The report indicated that the factions first make an official announcement of their desire to include new members and then they choose the children and lure their families with money and other benefits.