HRW Accuses US, Allies of Using Child Soldiers to Recapture Raqqa

HRW Accuses US, Allies of Using Child Soldiers to Recapture Raqqa

TEHRAN (FNA)- Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the US-led coalition and its local allies of using child soldiers during their major offensive to recapture the Northern Syrian city of Raqqa from the Takfiri ISIL terrorist group.
Lama Fakih, the deputy Middle East director at the HRW, announced that that the group was concerned that “some US allies” particularly the so-called Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have used children for military purposes in past, presstv reported.
“In our latest report released today, Human Rights Watch has identified a handful of key priorities that the US-led coalition and allies on the ground, including the Syrian Democratic Forces, should keep in mind to prioritize civilian protection in the context of the Raqqa offensive,” media outlets quoted Fakih as saying.
“We have already documented a series of rights abuses in the context of anti-ISIS (ISIL or Daesh) operations and we will continue to document through communications with people on the ground as well as missions onto the ground and interviews with displaced persons following these key trends and they include for example treatment of displaced persons. Are displaced persons allowed to freely move around in Syria once they get out of Raqqa? Are they receiving adequate levels of humanitarian assistance? Are there in fact civilian casualties resulting from coalition strikes? We are concerned that some of the US allies on the ground have in the past used child soldiers and are urging coalition forces as well as the forces on the ground to ensure that no child soldiers participate in the battle to remove ISIS from Raqqa.”
In a statement released on Tuesday, the New York-based rights group urged the United States and its allies to make the protection of civilians a priority in the offensive.
The leading rights group also asked the US to investigate airstrikes that had targeted civilians across the region.
It also called on the United States to respect the rights of detainees, provide safe passage for displaced and intensify efforts to clear land mines across the violence-hit region.
Elsewhere in the statement, the group said the United States and the local partner forces on the ground must respect the rights of everyone caught up in the battle.
Washington is providing ground and air support to the Kurdish-led SDF in the battle for Raqqa, which has since 2014 been ISIL’s main base in Syria.
The United States has also been overseeing and sourcing a constant flow of arms and other supplies to militants, including those of the SDF, which is against the Damascus government.
The SDF started military Operations codenamed ‘Euphrates Rage’ to liberate Raqqa from the ISIL hands in November 2016.

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