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Syrian Democratic Forces Declares End to Using Child Soldiers
By Tom O'Connor

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have declared an official ban on using child soldiers in their battle against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and other hostile forces in the war-ravaged country.

The announcement came in the form of an official military order by the Syrian Democratic Forces Commander-in-Chief Mazloum Abdi released Friday by the militia's press office. Recent reports from the U.N. and human rights groups have accused the group of forcefully conscripting minors, prompting a denial from the fighters' political wing last month. While not explicitly admitting fault, the latest order instructed fighters under the age of 18 to be removed from service in compliance with international law.

"The Commander-in-Chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces [Mazloum Abdi] issued a military order to all concerned of the relevant parties of the components of the Syrian Democratic Forces, which included a number of clauses that confirm the commitment of the Syrian Democratic Forces to all the provisions and instruments contained in international conventions to spare children from the scourge and calamities of war."

Abdi specifically expressed his commitment to U.N.'s 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, last year's Annual Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, U.N. Security Council Resolution 1612 "and subsequent council resolutions on children and armed conflict."

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