SDF begins forced conscription campaign amid Turkish threats

SDF begins forced conscription campaign amid Turkish security threats
2 min read
26 October, 2021
The US-backed militia coalition have reportedly stated men as young as 18 years old living in areas under their control will be required to join them.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have reportedly arrested many young men and sent them to training camps in the Hasaka countryside [Getty]

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have began a campaign of forced conscription of young people in areas under their control, ahead of potential fresh Turkish military action against them in northern Syria, Arabi21 reported on Monday.

The Kurdish-Led SDF's Self-Defence Office reportedly issued a circular that states the recruitment campaign's compulsory conscription will require men as young as 18 years old to join them. 

The US-backed militants, who control most of northeastern Syria, have also reportedly deployed checkpoints inside Syrian cities, where many young men have been arrested and sent to training camps in the Hasaka countryside, local sources told Arabi21.

"The SDF militia began about a week ago with a massive arrest campaign in Hasaka and Qamishli, for [young men] who can bear arms,"Abdul Aziz Tammo the head of the Independent Syrian Kurds Network told Arabi21.

The SDF's rumoured goal is to defend Tal Rifaat, and other locations under their control, against Turkish threats to launch a military operation against them, in response to security operations carried out by the SDF in northern Syria against the Turkish army, according to Tammo.

The SDF allegedly mobilised it's supporters to come out in the demonstration of Tal Rifaat and reject Turkish threats, as they attempted to "seek protection from the Syrian regime by raising the regime's flags and pictures of... President Bashar Al-Assad... in the demonstration," Tammo said.

The SDF have also reportedly deployed checkpoints inside Syrian cities, where they inspect residents' civil ID's and arrest the majority of young people before leading them to training camps, local sources told Arabi21.

“The SDF is repeating the same steps that it did before losing the city of Afrin in 2018, when the SDF claimed that it handed over [the city] to the Syrian regime with the aim of being protected from Turkish forces' advancements", Al-Khatib explained.

A recent investigation by Al-Araby Al-JadeedThe New Arab's Arabic-language sister publication, revealed that groups affiliated to the SDF are also extorting families in the areas it controls.

The report alleged that family members were arrested using "fabricated accusations" or are held without charge by the group before payment is demanded for their release.