Turkey Recruited Child Soldiers to Fight in Libya, Reports Say

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French newspaper ‘Le Point’ claims that experts have documented the recruitment of minors to fight in Libya as early as 2014.

The French newspaper based its report on an investigation by the “Syrians for Truth and Justice” NGO, located in France.

According to the NGO, evidence was collected from Syria and Libya regarding the recruitment practices used by Turkey to convince Syrian fighters to deploy to Libya.

The report argues that Turkey is using Syrian rebels to consolidate the power of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) against Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).

According to estimates, Turkey has sent between 2,000 and 4,000 Syrian fighters to Libya since the beginning of the year.

Reports says that the recruitment of child soldiers, who are lured with promises of lucrative salaries, is still ongoing, especially within the Turkish-backed Syrian militia ‘Sultan Murad’.

The French newspaper claims that at least 25 children have been trained to fight in Libya by one of Ankara’s main allies in northern Syria, the “Al-Mu’tasim Brigade”.

These child soldiers have allegedly had their identification documents forged to show they are enlisted in the “Syrian National Army”.

Sending children to fight in Libya contradicts basic international norms on the involvement of children in armed conflict, such as the UN ‘Optional Protocol on the Convention of the Rights of the Child’. Syria, Libya, and Turkey are party to the protocol.

European Union spokesman Peter Stano called all those involved in the Libyan conflict to respect international law and said that “those who violate it will be held accountable”.

The remarks follow the launch of the EU’s naval mission ‘IRINI’, who’s mission is to enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya.

An official in the GNA denied the use of Syrian child soldiers and accused the LNA of having minors in their ranks.

According to the source, “A few soldiers between the ages of 16 and 17 were arrested last month in the south of Tripoli.”