Turkey has accused the United State of “double standards and hypocrisy” after a report released by the state department highlighted Ankara was among 15 countries which use child soldiers. In a statement, the Turkish foreign ministry completely rejected the claims.
The report from the US state department was released on Friday and Turkey’s rejection came later on the same day.
Among the other nations mentioned on the list was Pakistan, which has also rejected the reacted strongly to the development. The foreign office said that the inclusion depicted a “factual error and understanding”, and urged Washington to review the “baseless assertions” made against the country.
Turkey, the first NATO ally to be placed in the list, pointed to American support for Syrian Kurdish militants. It cited a United Nations report that documented child recruitment and exploitation under the umbrella of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Turkey says Syrian Kurdish militants that provided the backbone of the SDF fighting the Islamic State group were linked to Kurdish fighters who have been waging an insurgency against Turkey for more than three decades and are designated as terrorists. American support for them has been a major irritant in US-Turkish relations.
The US move could lead to sanctions on military assistance to countries mentioned in the list. The Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA) list has been coming out since 2010, and had highlighted six governments for the first time. The number has increased to 15 this year – the highest so far.
Once a country is placed on the list, it is prohibited in the following US government programmes: International military education and training, foreign military financing, excess defence articles and peacekeeping operations. The CSPA also prohibits the issuance of licences for direct commercial sales of military equipment to such governments.
Islamabad has said that no institution was consulted by the US prior to the publication of the report. Local media, carrying the statement of the Pakistan foreign office, reported that no details were provided of the basis on which the conclusion was reached.
The foreign office statement emphasised that Pakistan neither supported any non-state armed group nor any entity recruiting or using child soldiers, saying “Pakistan’s efforts in fighting non-state armed groups including terrorist entities are well-recognised.”
It maintained that Pakistan was committed to fighting “this scourge – both at the national and international levels”.