He was then sent to a government-funded shelter for abused and abandoned children in the mountains above Beirut, where he stayed until his mother managed to get him released one week later.
Against that backdrop, Mohammed’s family sees little chance of returning soon.
Today, the family of 10 lives in a single rented room in a dilapidated five-story building in Beirut, which provides cramped housing for more than 350 Syrians.
Now their farmhouse in Karakozak has been taken over by Islamist rebels belonging to the al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the family says.
The village has become a potential flash point for Turkish intervention in the war, home to the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of the Ottoman Empire’s founder, which ISIS has threatened to attack and neighboring Turkey has pledged to protect.
on a chilly recent Wednesday, and the bars of Beirut were just getting into full swing. Clutching a vase of red roses, he scoured the outdoor tables for a softhearted target.
Spotting two women deep in conversation, the round-faced boy sidled up and broke into a wide smile, but was motioned away with a sharp shake of the head.
“Seventy percent don’t want to go back to their families, and shouldn’t, but if the court rules that, they are obliged to.” Ahmad, 13, second from right, and Mohammad, 14, right, both refugees from Deraa, Syria, take time out from shining shoes to chat with a Christian evangelist youth worker and his assistant on Beirut’s seafront promenade.
(Sam Tarling/For the Washington Post) Lebanese authorities are ill-equipped to address the problem of Syria’s child refugees, advocates say.
Then there are the less visible child workers, toiling in factories and agriculture. Mohammed’s began when he was 8 years old and living in Manbij, a northern agricultural town on the fertile western banks of the Euphrates.