A teenager from northern Syria who was forcibly recruited by the PKK-affiliated People’s Protection Units (YPG) fled during Turkey's anti-terror operation and surrendered to the forces of the Syrian National Army (SNA).
Muayyed Shabo, 14, said he along with several other children his age was taken by YPG terrorists from his native village of Katof, in northeastern Syria's Ras al-Ayn.
"The terrorists forcefully took us to their camps and taught us how to fight," he said.
The YPG's use of child soldiers is not a new phenomenon, having been repeatedly documented and criticized by international human rights organizations over the years.
The group reportedly tricks families into giving up their children or outright kidnaps them, before taking them to training camps where they are denied contact with their families.
"The terrorists were recruiting anyone who could carry a gun. There were 84 children aged between 12 and 14 in the camp," he added.
Shabo said the terrorists gave weapons training to turn children into terrorists. "Children who could not keep up with training, the terrorists forced them to dig tunnels," he said.
He added that the terrorists spread propaganda using the photos of Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the PKK.
"The terrorists told us how the PKK was established and how they will create a Kurdish state in Syria," he said.
Several children between the ages of 9 to 16 who were been forced to fight the Turkish military lost their lives in Turkey's anti-terror operations at home and abroad, said a security source on Friday on condition of anonymity.
Shabo said the YPG terrorists have established a "youth battalion" to fight on the frontlines. Security sources said this was an indication that the terrorist group has a member shortage and the would-be ringleaders had sent children to their deaths to save their own lives.
He also shared how he fled the terrorists. "We had set off for Ras al-Ayn. When we arrived at the al-Mnajeer area, we changed our military uniforms with civilian clothes. We were waiting for weapons when I escaped with my friends and hid in a ditch," he said.
Shabo said he reached his home after midnight and hugged his mother. "When I heard that the Syrian National Army [SNA] liberated the villages from YPG/PKK terrorists, I went to them and told my story. Because I knew that I am innocent," he said.
In July, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres presented a report to the U.N. Security Council, revealing that the YPG had recruited 313 children and is using schools for military purposes.
According to the report produced at the request of the U.N. Security Council, nearly 40% of children recruited by the terrorist group included girls younger than 15 years old. The report found that these children had received military training and that 119 underage girls had fought in battles. The U.N. report also unveiled that the YPG terrorist group used 24 schools and hospitals as training grounds and 14 schools as ammunition depots.
The 1949 Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War prohibits the use of children under the age of 15 as soldiers.