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Syrian militants recruit child soldiers

October 07, 2013, 14:18 UTC+3

Twelve year old tells the story of how he became a militant sniper

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Still from Syria TV

Still from Syria TV

DAMASCUS, October 7. (Itar-Tass) – War has no age restrictions: it destroys lives of everyone, adults and children. Journalists witnessed the horrors of war once again, when a twelve year old Shaaban Abdullah Hamida came forward and told his story.

The child lost his mother at the age of seven. His father abandoned him and left for another family. Shaaban was left out in streets; he had to abandon school and find a job. After working for a plastics factory for several years, he was found by his uncle Aziz. Shaaban was given a real handgun and was offered a new job with “the resistance.”

For a month he was trained in warfare, including sniper combat and camouflage. After his training was complete, Shaaban was deployed on a roof in Aleppo near the al-Shaar bridge with an order to shoot everyone who crossed it. He was paid for every life he claimed: a civilian earned him 500 Syrian pounds (around $3.6), a soldier’s life was priced twice that.

Snipers operated in three shifts; Shaaban ‘s partners were as young as him.

His shift was 8am to 4pm. Throughout two months of his deployment, the child killed 13 civilians and 10 soldiers.

On the orders of his uncle, Shaaban also participated in executions of militants who committed various offenses. “My stationing was over when uncle Shiro told my father that I’m with uncle Aziz,” Shaaban said. The child solder fled to Hama with his father, where he lived in a refugee camp run by the Syrian Red Crescent. Eventually he was offered a chance to move to Tartus and work on plantations. It was there where Syrian journalists found the child and interviewed him.

They were less shocked by his life story than by his answer to the question “What did you feel when killing people?”

“Nothing, nothing at all,” he replied. 

We include a gallery of the war-torn Syria, where war and peace are an everyday reality. 

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