Rebels-in-waiting: The children as young as SEVEN being trained to fight on the front lines against Gaddafi

With smiles on their faces, these young boys could be playing soldiers with their friends.

But the youngsters are in fact helping rebel fighters in Libya to overcome Colonel Gaddafi’s troops as the bitter civil war rumbles on.

Boys as young as seven have been pictured carrying automatic weapons and cleaning rifles in Misrata as rebel forces battle loyalist troops in the outskirts of Zlitan.

Although they do not appear to have been involved on the front line, the boys are clearly being trained to operate the weapons.

Since the uprising broke out in February, armed rebels have seized control of much of Libya’s east – where they set up an administration in Benghazi.

They also control the coastal city of Misrata and much of the Nafusa mountain range south-west of the capital Tripoli.

After a string of victories in recent months, rebel forces have expanded the area under their control in the mountains.

Rebel fighters have also begun constructing makeshift weapons to take on the better-equipped loyalist troops.

Heavy weapons are in short supply in Misrata, but ingenius fighters have created workshops where impromptu missile launchers and machine guns are being welded from spare parts.

Sadiq Mubakar Krain, a former oil company foreman, is busy welding some of the weapons using scavenged equipment.

Pointing to a 16-tube rocket launcher, he said: ‘This is the first time I make one of these.

‘I have learned to make other things and to weld, so God willing, I have got this one right.’

The workshop is busy manufacturing new housings for heavy machine guns and anti-aircraft guns that will be mounted on the back of pickup trucks.

Nato air raids on military targets have decreased, leaving rebel forces with a lack of firepower to combat the better-equipped Gaddafi troops.

It comes after the Human Rights Watch condemned rebels for looting shops, homes and medical facilities in towns seized in the western mountains.

Homes belonging to Gaddafi supporters are also believed to have been torched.

A report by the New-York based group called on rebel commanders to hold their forces responsible for damaging civilian property.

Joe Stork, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa in the group, said: ‘Opposition forces have an obligation to protect civilians and their property in the areas they control so people feel they can return home safely and rebuild their lives.’


Categories: Imperialism, International, Libya, Workers Struggle, Youth

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