Video of young girl firing rifle underscores tensions in Lebanon

Screen capture from video below.
 
A man loads his assault rifle and hands it to a little girl, who is maybe 7 or 8 years old. “You want to try it?” he asks. He shows her how to use it, and she shoots it thirteen times, beaming with pride afterwards. This video, filmed in the streets of Tripoli in northern Lebanon, is one of several videos that illustrate how children are used by Sunni and Alawite fighters to intimidate each other, according to our Observer.
 
According to our Observers in Tripoli, the video, which was filmed Saturday and published online Sunday, is set in the Bab El Tebbaneh neighbourhood. Sunni who live there regularly clash with Alawites, followers of an offshoot of Shiite Islam, who live in the adjacent neighbourhood of Jabal Mohsen. Sectarian fighting between residents of these two areas goes back several decades, but it has intensified since the start of the conflict in Syria, where the regime, headed by Alawite president Bashar Al Assad, is fighting against mostly Sunni rebels.
 
Fighting in Tripoli flared up again during the past week, leaving at least 28 dead and more than 200 wounded. Many families have fled the affected areas.
 
The face of the little girl was blurred by FRANCE 24.
Contributors

“This was probably filmed in response to another video featuring a child from the opposite side”

Omar Sayyed is a local journalist who runs the Facebook page North Lebanon News. The video featuring the little girl was sent to him by a friend. 
 
The video was filmed by a friend of mine in a little street right off of Syria Street [the street seen in the background]. Syria Street serves as a dividing line between the neighbourhoods of Bab El Tebbaneh and Jabal Mohsen. When fighting breaks out there, as it did on Saturday, snipers fire from rooftops. This means that when the little girl goes out into that street to shoot, she is potentially in the line of sight of snipers – so it’s an incredibly dangerous, crazy thing to do.
 
“This is clearly propaganda”
 
To me, this video is clearly propaganda. In all my reporting on the clashes, I’ve never seen any children truly participating in the fighting. [Unlike in neighbouring Syria, where minors are actively taking part in the conflict.] The fighters usually keep their children far away from where bullets could reach them. I believe this video was probably filmed in response to another video that came out last week, of a fighter from the Jabal Mohsen neighbourhood who was filmed with his young son. In that video, the man says that he is training his son to fight against enemies, and that he doesn’t mind if his child gets killed fighting for the Alawites’ cause. [Last year, a Lebanese television station also filmed two young boys holding assault rifles who said they were fighting alongside the grownups.]
 
Using children for this type of propaganda is truly a form of abuse. Besides potentially putting them in harm’s way, these kids are going to grow up with hatred in their hearts, hatred planted there by their own parents. It’s hard to believe this is happening in our country. As problems in Syria get worse, they get worse here, too; Tripoli is a sort of mailbox, where the two sides send each other messages, in a very bloody way. And the fighting has been going on for so long now that some people are clearly going crazy.
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