Libya : syrian children recruited in the army of Tripoli - The Point

This is the first time that recognized experts to document the recruitment of minors since the outbreak of the civil war in Libya in 2014. The NGO Syrians for T

Libya : syrian children recruited in the army of Tripoli - The Point

This is the first time that recognized experts to document the recruitment of minors since the outbreak of the civil war in Libya in 2014. The NGO Syrians for Truth and Justice (STJ), based in France and supported by different european funds, has collected several testimonies in Syria and Libya, raising a corner of the veil on the methods of the militias, syrian pro-Turkish.

Its report, published on the 11th of may last, provides that "children who were recruited by the factions of the national Army of syrian coalition of rebel groups supported by Turkey) are currently in the process of fighting in Libya" to the sides of the national unity government of Fayez al-Sarraj (GNA), an ally of Ankara, against the libyan national army of field marshal Khalifa Haftar (LNA).

also Read Libya : the great parade of arming Turkish

3 000 dollars to fight in Libya

According to estimates from observers and diplomats, the Turkey would be routed between 2 000 and 4 000 fighters syrian on the front of libya since the beginning of the year. If the share of the minors is probably still limited, these recruits are organized and planned by several groups of syrian rebels. A member of the team STJ (wishing to remain anonymous) ensures to the Point that once recruited, " these young people are sent to military camps for several weeks before going to see the outsourcing of military tasks ". At least 25 children have been trained to go to fight in Libya by one of the main allies of Ankara in the north of Syria, the brigade al-Moutasim.

last January, a few days before being sent to the front, three teenagers "between 15 and 16 years old", are entrusted to a merchant of Marea in the region of Afrine under the control of the Turkish army and its allies since march, 2017. Constantly accompanied by a " commander of the brigade al-Moutasim ", the three young men were preparing to go to Libya "with the agreement of their families," and " in exchange for a monthly salary of 3 000 dollars ", according to the testimony collected by STJ. A considerable sum for young Syrians, the overwhelming majority lives in poverty and has experienced more years of war than peace. Nothing that, between January and June 2019, nearly 300 children have been recruited to fight in the syrian conflict, according to Unicef.

Fake documents

The groups of armed syrians avoid to draw attention to these battalions of minors. Recruiters falsify the identification documents of these child soldiers by inventing new places and dates of birth. They are stored in the ranks of the national Army of syrian under a false name, sometimes borrowed from their big brother.

A fighter from the division of Sultan Murad sent to eastern Libya last February to ensure the NGOS that at least five children are part of his group of twenty soldiers, or a quarter of the workforce. This faction of fighters Turkmen, described as particularly aligned with Ankara by the specialist Historicoblog, is part of the three major recruiters of minors syrians with the brigade in the al-Moutasim. The third group identified by the experts of the syrians is that of the sultan Souleymane Shah, rebels, and also nostalgic for the ottoman Empire.

The concept of responsibility no longer exists in Libya, the violations are continuous.

Officially, Turkey is not involved in the recruitment of fighters and syrians in support of the forces of Fayez al-Sarraj ; the operation is financed by the government of national unity (GNA) is recognized by the united nations. But by transferring air fighters syrians to Libya, Turkey can hardly ignore their existence, as seen in this photo taken on the tarmac of Gaziantep, in eastern Turkey. The faces of children are twitchy on this selfie night taken in front of a military aircraft of the Turkish air forces and disseminated by a media close to the army of Haftar.

not to mention the recruitment, the transport of a minor combatants is in itself a violation of the Convention on the rights of the child, a united Nations protocol signed by Turkey as well as Syria and Libya. "All the participants in the conflict must abide by international law and those who violate will be held responsible," responds Peter Stano, the spokesman for the foreign and security policy of the european Union, which struggled for two months to implement the mission of naval Irini, which is supposed to enforce the arms embargo.

wishful thinking for Claudia Gazzini, a specialist on Libya, for the NGO International Crisis Group : "The concept of responsibility no longer exists since long time in Libya, the bombing followed and the violations are continuous. "Since 2011, the arms embargo has not ceased to be trampled by the two parties and their foreign allies.

Tripoli denies and accuses Haftar

"It is Haftar who send minors to fight, not the libyan army," says a source in the government of national unity (GNA), denying the accusations of the NGOS Syrian for Truth and Justice. According to this adviser, " a few soldiers between 16 and 17 years were arrested last month in the south of Tripoli and are being held in a juvenile prison ". One of them would have even less than 15 years, according to the center for official communication from Tripoli, quoted by the news agency, Turkish Anadolu.

By 2019, the government of al-Sarraj, had already denounced the use of "child soldiers" by its rival, which had launched an offensive against the capital to the west of the country.

Read also Libya – The small coup of marshal Haftar

Alerted, the NGO Human Rights Watch had attempted to visit last December to the prisoners described as "minor" by the jailers of the RNG. But the bombing of the forces of Haftar on the detention centre had prevented humanitarian workers moving in.

Updated Date: 25 May 2020, 11:33

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