The terrorist organization, the PKK, recruited 3,000 children in the past six months in southeastern Turkey, announced Şanlıurfa Governor İzzettin Küçük.
Küçük said in a call-in at Ülke TV the previous day that the figure included 400 from Suruç, a district of the southeastern Turkish province of Şanlıurfa on the Turkish-Syrian border. "As far as we know, the PKK aims to have at least one child from every household as a recruit in its ranks," he said, referring to intelligence sources.
He said the PKK's efforts contradicted the anticipation that the terrorist organization would lay down its arms. "They continuously abduct children. So, don't expect them to give up arms," he said. Earlier this year, the PKK's jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan had urged the group to consider laying down arms in light of the reconciliation process initiated by the government to put an end to the terrorist organization's bloody campaign.
Şanlıurfa is located across from Tal Abyad, a Syrian town where violent clashes between the PYD, a Syrian Kurdish faction linked to the PKK, and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) are underway. Küçük also said the PYD was evacuating the area, forcing Syrian Arabs and Turkmens to flee into Turkey, and that PKK forces were closing in on the Turkish border.
Last year, a group of Kurdish families staged a months-long sit-in in Diyarbakır, a neighboring province to Şanlıurfa, and a brief hunger strike to protest the recruitment of their children as young as 15-years-old by the terrorist organization. Up to 130 families took part in the protest at times, and the Diyarbakır municipality, which is affiliated with a political party with ties to the PKK, repeatedly blocked the protest.
The families' protest was hailed as an unprecedented example of civil resistance to the terrorist organization that has instilled an atmosphere of fear among the Kurdish community from which it draws support. The number of child recruits is unknown, but experts say a majority of the PKK's members, apart from its leadership, consist of teenagers and children.
The PKK, which denies recruiting child militants in line with its commitment to the Geneva Convention declaration it signed to end the practice, had recently announced it would send back any militants under the age of 16 "if detected among the ranks." Since then, nearly a dozen PKK militants have either surrendered or have been captured by security forces. Those include children from the families who staged last year's protests.