The United States on Thursday added Turkey to a list of countries that are implicated in the use of child soldiers over the past year, Reuters reported.
This is the first time that a NATO ally is in such a list. The move is likely to further complicate the already fraught ties between Ankara and Washington.
“The US State Department determined in its 2021 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) that Turkey was providing "tangible support" to the Sultan Murad division in Syria, a faction of Syrian opposition that Ankara has long, supported and a group that Washington said recruited and used child soldiers,” the news agency said.
Turkey has also been accused of using child soldiers in Libya.
"With respect to Turkey in particular...this is the first time a NATO member has been listed in the child soldier prevention act list," the State Department official said. "As a respected regional leader and member of NATO, Turkey has the opportunity to address this issue -- the recruitment and use of child soldiers in Syria and Libya," she said.
Turkey has carried out three cross-border operations in Syria against the so-called Islamic State, as well as US-backed Kurdish fighters. Ankara has been accused by human rights groups and the United Nations of indiscriminately attacking civilians and carrying out kidnappings and lootings.
Turkey, through proxies and its own armed forces, has also been involved in the Libyan conflict.