US Plans to Train 3,500 More Kurdish SDF Forces in Syria in 2023

US-backed SDF among the largest users of child soldiers in Syria

More than once, US plans in northern Syria have centered on mass training of fighters for some faction that they are keen to prop up. Officials say 3,500 more fighters for the Kurdish SDF will be trained in 2023.

In the past those training missions have gone poorly, with the US trying to train new factions in the area, and watching their fighters quietly take their equipment and defect to al-Qaeda.

The SDF seems less likely to defect, as an established rebel group, but the group has become infamous itself for how it operates, including being one of the biggest recruiters of child soldiers in all of Syria.

US training of SDF recruits when many of those recruits are child soldiers is going to be complicated. It is interesting that the US remains comfortable aligning itself with the SDF.

At least most of the time. The US has largely backed away from SDF support when the Turkish military attacks them, but when they decide they want a training mission, the beneficiaries are ultimately the same SDF.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.