Important military instructions by SDF General Command on educational facilities, child protection

The General Command of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) issued military instructions confirming their commitment to policies to protect schools and educational facilities and the protection of children in order to begin evacuating all sites that the Education Body in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria classifies as schools, and to cooperate fully with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

The SDF Media Center published a copy of the decision issued by the General Command of the SDF signed on July 13, and it states:

"According to the United Nations Security Council's resolutions 1998 (2011) and 2143 (2014) regarding the military use of schools by the military forces and its effects on the safety of children and education personnel, the Syrian Democratic Forces stresses the right to education during armed conflict and to alleviate the impact of the conflict on children, their safety, the safety of educational personnel, the provision of the necessary facilities, and their protection from the dangers of military operations in areas under their security and military control in Syria and accordingly:


Within the framework of our efforts in the Syrian Democratic Forces to protect children, schools, and educational personnel from the effects of armed conflict and military operations and to ensure the civilian nature of schools as safe learning environments for children, the Syrian Democratic Forces are adhere with all of its components to refrain from using schools for military purposes and from placing any equipment or weapons near them, except in cases of extreme military necessity, such as that schools are vulnerable to aggression from other military parties and need protection, in full coordination with the competent civil authorities such as the Education Body in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria as the civil authority vested and the authority regulating the educational process, schools and educational facilities.

All components of the Syrian Democratic Forces are in full compliance with the principles of distinguishing between military objectives and the principle of precautions against the effects of the attack as stipulated in the Law of Armed Conflict, and thus refrain from military use of schools in a manner that is not inconsistent with commitment No. (1) above.

The SDF is obliged to take precautions while attacking schools where military targets are identified to avoid direct or incidental damage, and to resort to legal advisers accompanying military operations to assist leaders in decision-making.

All military leaders of the Syrian Democratic Forces in headquarters, field officers and military personnel under their command must be fully aware of these instructions and include this document in all training programs in schools and military academies of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

These instructions are included in the rules of military clash, related military policies, and in overall military planning for the Syrian Democratic Forces' military operations, preparing for them, and implementing them.

The Syrian Democratic Forces allow the civil authorities and humanitarian actors after coordination and approval with the Education Body in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria to access the sites and review the state of schools, as required by the capabilities and need to make efforts in order to assess the damage inflicted to schools and remove  the military risks getting them back to their civilian nature.

The Syrian Democratic Forces are committed to fully cooperating with the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, and the United Nations Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting, including the exchange of appropriate information on violations and abuses practiced against children.

The Syrian Democratic Forces will commence, from the date of issuance of these instructions, the process of vacating the sites that the Education Body in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria classifies as a school to complete the teaching process as it is considered the civil and official authority and duly authorized by the decision.

The Syrian Democratic Forces will abide by what is stated in the above document, and leaders, officers and individuals will face penalties if they are not adhered to."



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