Turkey is recruiting Syrian child soldiers and sending them to fight for the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Libya, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on May 13.
According to the UK-based monitoring group, at least 150 child soldiers, aging between 16 and 18, have been deployed in Libya so far.
“Many children under the age of 18 go from Idlib and the northern Aleppo countryside to Afrin … In Afrin they are recruited by pro-Turkey factions then sent to fight for the GNA in its battles against Haftar forces [the Libyan National Army (LNA)] on Libyan soil,” the group’s report reads.
The SOHR also shared the story of a 15-year old child who told his parents he was going to work on a farmland in Afrin. The parents lost contact with their child 20 days after his supposed trip to Afrin.
Later, the parents were shocked when they came across a video from Libya showing their son fighting for the GNA. The parents found out that their son was recruited by the Turkish-backed Sultan Murad Division.
Initially the group told the parents that the fate of their son is unknown, but later they were told that their son was killed and that his body is with the LNA.
The SOHR said that the Sultan Murad Division, one of Turkey’s largest proxy groups, is responsible for most of the child soldiers deployed in Libya.
Currently, 8,700 Syrian militants are fighting for the GNA in Libya. Despite the mounting losses and repeated scandals, Turkey is preparing to send more militants to Libya. Around 3,550 militants are receiving training ahead of deployment, according to the SOHR.