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From the Inside Looking In

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One Child-Soldier's Story

Excerpt from an interview with a child-soldier conducted near Khorramshahr at the front during the  Iran-Iraq War. The interview was first  aired on Iranian television, and has  since been posted on  the video-sharing site  YouTube. The soldier  was killed in battle  soon after the interview.
Translation by Darius Rejali

I, Mehrdad Azizolahi, am a soldier of Isfahan, and I am 14 years old, and the reason I came to the front was really those brothers who came to us and told us what good qualities the front has, and anyone who goes becomes psychologically strong and self-sufficient, and those insufficiencies and those sins will be cleansed. And I came to the front so that maybe I may be some help in the way of God and my sins may be forgiven. . . .

Just right now, as we were coming from the front, a mortar hit five meters from us—just exactly five meters from us—and the wave of it shook us, but not one of  us got a blow from it. And we can do nothing against  such terrific forces, no weak thing to protect us, only  God protects.

Did you ever remove minefields during the war?
Some of us, we did it, yes, we fought in Beit al Moqadas, for the brothers, the capture of Khorramshahr, and it was in the first, second, and third phase of Beit al Moqadas that we opened the way, and then it was the operation  of Ramazan, and we opened the way there too, and that was a time of miracles for us. . . . 

Were your parents satisfied? Did you get permission from your mother?
My parents, they made it possible for me to understand  . . . I really thank my father for letting me come, and  I tell other fathers and other mothers not to be so emotional and attached, and to let their children come to the front. In reality, the front lets them grow up, and everyone should come at least once a week, and at least look with open eyes.