04 October 2016
Children are being recruited in multiple capacities and significant numbers within the ranks of armed groups in the Syrian conflict. The participation of children in the conflict carries an inevitable multigenerational impact; violence is likely to continue beyond the cessation of hostilities.
A recent report by the UN Children’s Fund has estimated that at least 8.4 million Syrian children, which represent more than 80 percent of the country’s youth, are affected by the conflict that began in 2011. A substantial number of these children are not only victims of the violence inflicted upon them, but are also recruited for participation in armed groups.
Although many terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) are perceived as the chief recruiters of children in the Syrian conflict, other groups also enlist children within their ranks. As such, the exact numbers remain unclear, but the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has reported that children have fought on the frontlines, acted as spies and snipers for non-state armed groups, such as the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Islamic Front and Ahrar al-Sham. Consequently, the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) affiliates, including the People’s Protection Unit (YPG) and Women’s Protection Unit (YPJ) continue to make use of young boys and girls in armed combat despite their claims of demobilising them.
… Sara Mahmood is a Research Analyst with the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.
ICPVTR / Online
Last updated on 05/10/2016