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Where Childhood Died

Former Syrian child soldiers and their emotional scars

In areas held by radical Islamists, children were made to witness and even take part in, atrocities. The Syrian Army may have chased the extremists away, but the emotional scars remain. A young boy, who started digging tunnels for Jaish Al Islam in Duma when he was eleven, still has nightmares. His little brother, who saw beheadings in the public square, once cut off a doll’s head. Imad, who at thirteen was forced to become a hate-filled child soldier and later tortured in prison, has attempted suicide.

Can youths who lost their childhood to Al Nusra or ISIS expel the violence from their hearts and have hope for the future? Families poisoned by the cruelty of war, an art teacher and a child psychologist who try to help children leave their fears behind: all open up about the psychological impact of the war on the youngest generation.

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