In its annual report on human trafficking, the US State Department accused Turkey of negligence in the fight against human trafficking.
The United States has also accused Turkey of supporting some rebel groups in Syria that use children as soldiers in war.
"Human rights groups and international organizations have reported that the Turkish government is providing logistical and financial support to the Syrian armed groups that have recruited children as soldiers," the report said.
A senior State Department official told reporters on Thursday, July 1, that Ankara has provided “tangible support” to the Syrian National Army’s Sultan Murad faction, including transit through Turkish territory during the reporting period of April 2020 through March 2021.
“This is the first time a NATO member has been listed in the child soldier prevention act list," the official said. "As a respected regional leader and member of NATO, Turkey has the opportunity to address this issue, the recruitment and use of child soldiers in Syria and Libya.”
Previous reports have stated how Turkey-backed factions, including the Sultan Murad division, recruited Syrian children to fight on behalf of the Government of National Accord in Libya. The United Nations says both Turkey and Russia, which have supported opposite sides in both the Syrian and Libyan civil wars, deployed Syrians to fight in the North African country.
The State Department’s report also lists Syria as a “Tier 3” country, the category for governments doing the least to combat human trafficking. The report accused Damascus of continuing to “arrest, detain, and severely abuse trafficking victims, including child soldiers, and punished them for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit.”
The Islamic State (ISIS), Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in northwest Syria and other terrorist groups “forced, coerced, or fraudulently recruited foreigners,” including Central Asian and Western women, to join them. The report said many of the women held alongside the families of ISIS fighters at al-Hol and other displacement camps may be unidentified trafficking victims.
The US State Department also has accused, in its annual anti-trafficking report, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) of using children for military purposes and as soldiers in war.
Reporter's code: 50101