Armed groups in northern Iraq affiliated to the PKK terrorist organisation are forcing children under the age of 15 to become child soldiers, a report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed on Thursday.
The report documents 29 cases that also show how these terror groups have abducted children for recruitment and seriously abused those who tried to leave.
The recruitment or use of children under 15 is a war crime and under international law, non-state armed groups must not, under any circumstances, recruit children or use them in hostilities even if they are “volunteers.”
The New York-based rights group documented the cases in northern Iraq, where Kurdish and Yezidi children were forced into being recruited by two armed groups, the HPG and the YBS.
The HPG is the armed wing of the PKK, while the YBS is a PKK-affiliated militia made up of members from the Yazidi community.
“The groups should urgently demobilise children, investigate abuses, pledge to end child recruitment and appropriately penalise commanders who fail to do so,” the HRW urged.
TRT World’s Ali Mustafa talks about the report
HRW researcher Belkis Wille told TRT World that the rights group found 29 definite cases, but the actual number of child soldiers is feared to be much higher.