We have closely reviewed the report by the Office of UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Ms. Virginia Gamba on Children and Armed Conflict issued on May 6, 2021, covering the period from January 2020 to December 2020.
We affirm the commitment of the People's Defense Units to the agreement signed between the United Nations and the Syrian Democratic Forces with all its military components, and we reaffirm our committment to the action plan agreed upon by the Syrian Democratic Forces and United Nations (June 29, 2019).
At the same time, the People's Defense Units firmly denies the claims and related figures found in the mentioned report about the number of violations (170) + (8) attributed to our units regarding the issue of child-recruitment. Our forces have extremely strict regulations and a sensitive observation mechanism aimed at preventing anyone under the age of 18 from joining our ranks.
The People's Defense Units will also launch serious investigations into the claims of violations (5) attributed to our units regarding use of schools for military purposes.
We categorically deny the claims of kidnappings (8) attributed to our forces.
The People's Defense Units reaffirms its commitment to the international and humanitarian standards in accordance with the United Nations conventions. We at the same condemn UN monitoring and reporting offices and individuals responsible for investigations and observations in the Autonomous Administration areas in northeast Syria, as it is a biased mechanism in its assessments and submission of information that is included in official UN reports and that comes under the influence of parties competitive and/or hostile to the Autonomous Administration.
The People’s Defense Units fullfils its responsibilities and supports the agreement signed between the Syrian Democratic Forces and the United Nations in the areas of the Autonomous Administration in Rojava and northeastern Syria, by providing access for United Nations teams and partner organizations to all civil and military detention centers and by sharing necessary information with utmost transparency.
However, unfortunately, the report blames our units and portrays it as a force that violates rights of children in an unjust manner, despite the failure of UN officials in Syria to undertake their responsibilities according to international standards towards the children from Kurdish, Arab and various other ethnic groups in northeast Syria that constitutes 40% of the whole population under the age of 18 in Syria.
The capabilities of the United Nations are exploited for the benefit of the Syrian and Turkish regimes, as they are recognized by the United Nations, while the children in the Autonomous Administration areas, which geographically constitutes 32% of the of Syria, are deprived from their rights under illogical pretexts.
Nuri Mahmoud, Spokesperson of People's Defense Units | June 28th, 2021