|04-24-2012, 01:54 PM||#1|
Curio & Relic
AKaholic #: 3738
Join Date: Apr 2005
Teenagers taking up arms in Syrian rebellion
By DAVID McDOUGALL - GUVECCI, TURKEY— Special to Globe and Mail
A few months ago, Ahmed was an ordinary schoolchild in the Syrian city of Latakia. But when the baby-faced youngster was caught writing the words “freedom for Syria” on the classroom chalkboard, his teachers told him to leave and never come back. Now Ahmed, who says he is 13, has switched to learning how to use a Kalashnikov. He is the latest recruit in a brigade of fighters who slip back and forth across the northern Syrian border from Turkish villages like this one and make up the Free Syrian Army.
The ranks of the Syrian rebels, a still disorganized force that has been promised non-military aid by Washington, are filled almost entirely by young Sunni Muslim men. Many have no formal military training. And some of them appear to be no more than children..
Their presence is a disturbing side of the 13-month-old uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, whose troops continue to fire on neighbourhoods in Syria’s main cities despite the presence of a United Nations team monitoring the ceasefire that went into effect 11 days ago. Frustrated with the continuing violence but unwilling to intervene directly, the U.S. and European Union Monday expanded sanctions on Syria and its ally Iran.
U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order to sanction what the administration called “digital guns-for-hire,” or entities that provide tools like surveillance software that repressive regimes use to block or monitor social networking sites. At the same time, the EU issued its 14th set of sanctions, this time banning the export of luxury goods to Syria to penalize the al-Assad family and its business elite for their high-end lifestyles.
If the Free Syrian Army is arming and using underage boys in its fight against the forces of President al-Assad, it would be a violation of international conventions on soldiers. International criminal law says no child under the age of 15 can be used as a soldier and other international conventions consider those under the age of 18 as child soldiers.
Daraclor: A brand of anti-malaria pills which we had to drink every week while on the border. Legend had it that these would make you turn yellow and that you wouldn't be able to tan.
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