The Guardian reports: For the past seven months, Abu Hassan, an army medic, has treated the damaged and desperate people of the Iraqi city of Mosul as they arrived from the cauldron of war.
Soldiers, women and children often trembled in fear in front of him, hours after escaping the bloody clashes, as Iraqi forces battled to wrest control of the city from Islamic State fighters. But not nine-year-old Mohammed.
“He wasn’t a normal boy – he didn’t seem scared,” Hassan said shortly after treating Mohammed, one of the last to flee west Mosul earlier this month. “I chatted with him. I asked him normal questions, like: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ He said: ‘I want to be a sniper.’”
“I was shocked,” said Hassan. “It’s not a normal thing for a child to say. I asked him: ‘What did your dad do?’ He said he was a sniper emir – the emir of snipers.
“[Later] I received a lot of information from people from Mosul saying his father was important. The special forces found the boy in a basement with several [dead] Isis fighters. The soldiers brought the boy to me.”
Since the recapture of Iraq’s second city earlier this month, the toll the terror group’s occupation took on the city’s residents – and especially its young – has begun to emerge.
Hundreds, potentially thousands, of children have been left orphaned by war. And some bear a second burden – an ideology that has stripped them of innocence. To many in their own society, they are the devil’s spawn; stateless outcasts, unworthy of basic care. Aid agencies and state welfare systems do not want to acknowledge them. [Continue reading…]