Since the inception of the Syrian War in 2011, repeated headlines of Assad killing innocent women and children have persisted. These allegations have been debunked by Dr Tim Anderson’s work, ‘The Dirty War on Syria.’ However, despite being debunked, they have permeated and remained. What has received little attention however, is the use of child soldiers by the Free Syrian Army and its Islamist allies.
This may seem like a shock to most that a ‘moderate’ force like the Free Syrian Army are using children to fight their aggression against the secular government. It is not surprising to hear Islamist’s radicalizing children and using them to fight, therefore, why would this be any different for the Free Syrian Army who are allied to Al-Qaeda’s franchise in Syria, the Al-Nusra Front and several other extremist groups like Ahrar ash-Sham?
The following clip by Memri TV demonstrates the Free Syrian Army not only using child soldiers, but proudly proclaiming they have children fighting on their behalf. Later in the clip, it shows Islamist forces also using child soldiers. Indoctrination by Islamist’s as I emphasized before, is not a surprise, but why are the ‘moderate’ Free Syrian Army risking the lives of children to fight an aggression they started?
However, this chronicle by Memri TV didn’t capture all the supposed ‘rare moments’ of child soldiers being used by terrorist forces in Syria as anti-Assad propagandists claim. In fact, this is common place. Yet the media who adore the supposed ‘opposition forces’ have not uttered a word about it? Why is this? Would it unravel the propaganda and mythology of a ‘moderate force’? It would when one recognizes that no matter the circumstances, moderate forces should never rely on child soldiers to fill their ranks and use them for propaganda purposes.
In fact, the only mention of child soldiers by Western and Gulf media is in regards to ISIS using them. What gives special attention to ISIS using child soldiers but not other terrorist forces like the Free Syrian Army? How is it that they have become so exempt from scrutiny? Even following the propaganda line that the Free Syrian Army are a legitimate moderate force to the Syrian government, why have the other Islamist groups escaped all condemnation from Western and Gulf politicians, academics and journalists?
It is not hard to see some of the indoctrination that the children receive. This is a disturbing case that grooms a new generation of Islamist fighters who become immune to killing people nor fear their own death for the sake of a non-existent jihad.
With the Syrian Arab Army making rapid progress in south and east Aleppo province, Latakia, the Damascus suburbs and Da’ara province, the desperation of the Free Syrian Army and its Islamist allies will likely make them recruit more children. Most of the footage captured was in between 2012 and 2014 when they terrorist forces were on the offensive and having the Syrian Arab Army on the the retreat. It therefore can be suggested that desperation will make indoctrination of children exacerbate.
This begs the question, why have Western media, politicians and academics never brought this issue to light? It is a disturbing case of the propaganda war related to this conflict, especially when one considers that the systematic targeting of women and children by the Syrian Arab Army have been debunked, whilst something as horrific of child soldiers have been largely ignored.
Paul Antonopoulos is currently a Candidate for an MA Degree, writing his dissertation on the Saudi-Iranian Geopolitical Rivalry in the Syrian War.
You can follow him on twitter: @oulosP