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Child recruitment casts shadow over Syrian Kurds' push for global legitimacy

Failed efforts to secure the return of a recent spate of Kurdish youth recruited to fight in northeast Syria shows the delicate path the region's autonomous administration must navigate in its relations with the PKK.
Fighters from the Kurdish Women's Protection units (YPJ) participate in a military parade on March 27, 2019, celebrating the total elimination of the Islamic State (IS) group's last bastion in eastern Syria, in the northwestern city of Hasakah, in the province of the same name. (Photo by Delil SOULEIMAN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
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Rawan Aleku, a 16-year-old Syrian Kurdish high school student, has been missing from her hometown of Dirbasiya since Oct 8. In multiple interviews with the local press, her father, Umran, claimed that she was kidnapped by an armed group who then handed the girl to “another group.” He has appealed to Mazlum Kobane, the commander-in-chief of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the “highest authority” in northeast Syria, “to undertake his humanitarian duty.”

“Return my daughter Rawan Aleku to me, if you are honest. The pain of her disappearance is killing me. I’m fighting to get her back whatever it costs me, even my life,” Umran wrote in a Facebook post Nov. 10.

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