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On Child Soldiers, FSA Still Recruits, Syria Says Given Late Invite to Meeting

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 26 -- It was the day before Thanksgiving with Children and Armed Conflict in Syria was the topic of a closed door meeting in the UN's basement.

  The November 26 UN Journal listed

"Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict
15:00 to 16:00 51st meeting (closed) Conference Room 7"

   Inner City Press inquired and learned that Syria's Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari had been informed of and invited to the meeting, only at 11 am on November 26, according to him. At his request, the meeting was moved back for a half hour.

  The goal of the meeting was to adopt the conclusions of the "new" conclusions on Syria -- which according to Ja'afari cover only 2013, and thus not the Security Council's resolutions on ISIL and Al Nusra.

  Inner City Press asked Ja'afari, when he came out of the meeting, if the previously reported recruitment of child soldiers by the Free Syrian Army remains in. No, he said. He said he objected to the conclusions being adopted.

  Why are this committee's meetings routinely closed? That is why this first part of the story is based on Ja'afari, who was willing to speak.

 When the meeting broke up, Inner City Press asked the UN's envoy on Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui if the Free Syrian Army still recruits child soldiers. They are still listed, she replied. She explained the timing of the meeting as related to the coming January 1 changes in the Security Council -- committee chair Luxembourg is leaving the Council - and an upcoming trip to the DR Congo.

  Ja'afari complained to Inner City Press that while his government is accused of not cooperating, it invited the UN Monitoring Team to visit the site of a bombed school in Homs but they declined, citing their holidays.

  Inner City Press asked Zerrougui about this and she said she would check. Watch this site.

    Zerrougui on back July 1 took questions about her most recent report, on which Inner City Press reported on May 14, including the ten paragraphs over three pages about Syria.

  Since then, the US Obama Administration has announced a plan for $500 million to the "vetted" Syrian opposition: presumably, the "Free Syrian Army."

  As to this Free Syrian Army the UN report states that "most children associated with the FSA-affiliated group, as young as 14 years, indicated that they had received weapons training and 4,000 to 8,000 Syrian pounds pay per month.

   Examples are given: "a 17 year-old boy who joined the al-Murabiteen battalion of the Falloujat Houran FSA brigade in Bosra al-Sham, Dara'a Governate, reportedly received a fifteen-day weapons training in al-Lajat valley close to Bosra al-Sham."

  Also, "In June 2013, two brothers, aged 16 and 17, joined the FSA-affiliated Majd al-Islam brigade in Dara'a, where they cleaned weapons and performed security duties."

 So on July 1, Inner City Press asked Zerroughui about the FSA. She said “we put 'FSA and affilaited groups,' because some groups at not entirely under the control of the FSA, but they are not distancing themselves from the FSA.”

 Inner City Press asked Zerroughui is she'd raised this to the US. “Yes, I did with the US, I visiting Washington and raised the issue, the Child Act was discussed.”

That's the US 2008 Child Soldiers Prevention Act, which provides for example:

It is the sense of Congress that—

 (1) the United States Government should condemn the conscription, forced recruitment, or use of children by governments, paramilitaries, or other organizations;

 (2) the United States Government should support and, to the extent practicable, lead efforts to establish and uphold international standards designed to end the abuse of human rights described in paragraph (1);

  There are prohibitions on funding which can only be overridden for formal, public findings in a waiver by the President. Would or will that be used in this case? Watch this site.


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