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228 Men in Northern Raqqa Forced to Join Kurdish Ranks
By Chris Tomson

Since the beginning of 2017, thousands of people have been rounded up and recruited by the US-backed 'Syrian Democratic Forces' as the Kurdish-led militia looks to beef up its manpower by enrolling local combat-ready men and women.

With large swaths of northern Syria under its control, a batch of 228 fighters joined the predominately Kurdish group on Wednesday morning.

The recruits graduated from the so-called 'Martyr Faysal Abu Layla Academy' and had received ideological and military training before swearing an oath of allegiance to the SDF. All new SDF conscripts were men originating from the northern countryside of Raqqa.

SDF commander Mihemed Îmad attended the ceremony and spoke fondly of the SDF's role on the battlefield as a leading counter-terrorism contingent, emphasising its fight against ISIS as well as what he called "Turkish-backed gangs".

Although repeatedly denied by the SDF leadership, the group has been accused of forcibly recruiting people in areas under its control with multiple reports of underaged fighters joining the YPG as well.

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