US Accuses Turkey of Using Child Soldiers in Libya and Syria


On Thursday, the United States announced that it had added Turkey to a list of nations involved in recruiting and use of child soldiers, linking Ankara to underage fighters deployed on the battlefields of Libya and Syria.

The US State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report said that Turkey has provided “tangible support” to Syria’s Sultan Murad rebel group, which recruited and used underage combatants in the country’s decade-long civil war.

A US official also referred to Turkish involvement in the use of child soldiers in Libya’s conflict.
By listing Turkey, Washington was for the first time placing a NATO ally on its list of shame for human trafficking, a move likely to further complicate the already tense relations between the two countries.

“As a member of NATO, Turkey has the opportunity to address the recruitment and use of child soldiers in Syria and Libya,” the official said.

Washington and Ankara have increasingly been at loggerheads over the war in Syria, Turkish arms purchases from Russia, and other issues, prompting questions about the Turkish help for the US pullout from Afghanistan.

Governments placed on the trafficking list face restrictions on security assistance, as well as commercial licensing of military equipment, the report said. It was not clear if Turkey would face any restrictions.

The State Department’s annual trafficking report also singled out China, South Sudan, Myanmar, Belarus, Cuba, Nicaragua, and others for failing to do enough to fight the global scourge of people smuggling.