Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Belfast teen on Libya's front line

The closest most Belfast teenagers get to taking out a sniper is on their X-box in the comfort of their bedroom - but 19-year-old Tareg Gazel has been doing the real thing in war-torn Libya.

The teenager, who has a Libyan father and Belfast mother, is a rebel fighting to free the north African country from Colonel Gadaffi's regime.

"We killed four last night, two the night before," Tareg told the AFP news agency as he waited with his comrades under the protection of a motorway flyover.

With his flipped-round baseball cap and 'Just Do It' T-shirt, Tareg is taking a rest and cleaning his weapons before the next sniper report comes in.

He heads an eight-man team to find snipers around the city of Zawiyah, which is near the Libyan capital Tripoli.

"We hear from informants that there's a sniper somewhere, so we go to see what's happening. We stay several hours just to observe and then we do our tricks," he explained.

"At night the job is easier. We attach a light to a dog, and when it crosses the street, we see where the sniper's laser sight is coming from. That's how we got the last one. Or we run across the street ourselves to draw their fire. The most we've waited to get a sniper is eight hours."

He described how many of Gadaffi's fighters are foreign mercenaries, paid by the leader because of lack of domestic support for his four-decade rule.

Tareg declined to be photographed saying he still has relatives in prison.

"I have a British passport but that doesn't mean anything here if they catch me,'' he said.

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