Following are excerpts from a TV program on child soldiers in Tripoli, Lebanon. The program aired on Al-Jadid/New TV on October 31, 2012.
Footage of battle
Man: "Let’s go."
Boy cocks his gun
Footage of youngsters using their weapons
Boy: "There is no school tomorrow, mom."
Mother: "Yes, there is."
Boy: "Ask them if there is school tomorrow."
Reporter: "Do you like going to school?"
Boy: "Who me? Yeah right..."
Reporter: "Do you use these weapons a lot?"
Boy: "A lot. Whenever there is a battle."
Hussein, sitting next to him: "Since 2008. Ever since we understood what’s going on. Since we understood what weapons are all about."
Reporter: "Aren’t you afraid?"
Reporter: "Why aren’t you afraid? Someone might see you carrying a gun and shoot you."
Boy: "At least I will be defending my area, and will die as a martyr, defending my family and the people in my neighborhood."
Reporter: "But you’re so young, how can you carry a gun and shoot someone?"
Boy: "I have no problem shooting with it. I was born in this area, and I’ve got used to it. I can carry it and shoot a lot with it. Even adults and newcomers to Tebane can’t use a gun like me."
Reporter: "What types of weapons do you use?"
Boy: "AK-47, AKMS, SKS, M16, M4... I know how to use many types of guns. I know how to use G3, FAL, Seminov... I participate in all the battles."
Reporter: "What do you mean? Are you kidding me?"
Boy: "I’m not. If we don’t fight, who will defend us? People should not run away. They should send their women and children away, and stay here to fight. What’s the worst that could happen to you? You are defending your area."
Reporter: "But you are still a boy. The adults are defending this area. Why do you want to defend it?"
Boy: "Because sometimes the adults run away, afraid that they will get shot."
Reporter: "The adults run away and you stay?"
Boy: "Yes. No matter what happens, I’m not leaving Tebane."
Reporter: "What if you get killed?"
Boy: "No problem, I’ll die as a martyr, defending my area."
Reporter: "Hussein, how old are you?"
Hussein: "I’m 15."
Reporter: "And you carry a gun at the age of 15?"
Hussein: "That’s what it’s like in Tebane. It’s not just me who carries a gun. My cousin was younger than me. He was arrested in Syria, and it’s not okay for us to pick up a gun and fight them?"
Reporter: "Aren’t you afraid of being killed?"
Hussein: "Everybody dies when his time’s up. Nobody wants to die, but I’ll be very happy if I die for the sake of Tebane."
Boy: "They came and slaughtered the people here. They killed members of my family and imprisoned my dad for five years in Syria. They killed my uncle, as well as the martyrs Abu Arabi, Rafiq Al-Hariri, and General Wisam Hassan."
Reporter: "Aren’t you supposed to be at school?"
Boy: "Of course."
Reporter: "How do you combine school with all these weapons?"
Boy: "When we are attacked, I choose weapons. The schools are closed then."
Another boy: "I am 10 years old, and I’m in fourth grade. I carry a gun to defend my area."
Reporter: "What do you use this [bayonet] for?"
Boy: "If I shoot someone and he doesn’t die, I use it to hit him on the head or to stab him in the stomach. Do you want me to show you?"