A Libyan-Irish fighter has said that current conditions in Libya are much worse than last year’s civil war battle against ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Dubliner Hussam Najjar, who goes by the name Sam, has a Libyan father and an Irish mother. A trained sniper, Najjar was part of the team, led by Mahdi al-Harati, a militia chief, who stormed Col Gaddafi's compound in Tripoli last year. Harati now leads a unit in Syria and asked Najjar to join him from Dublin a few months ago.
Describing the Syrian rebels as poorly armed and disorganized, Najjar told Reuters that Syria's Sunni Muslim majority are now more repressed under Assad.
"I was shocked. There is nothing you are told that can prepare you for what you see. The state of the Sunni Muslims there - their state of mind, their fate - all of those things have been slowly corroded over time by the regime."
"I nearly cried for them when I saw the weapons. The guns are absolutely useless. We are being sold leftovers from the Iraqi war, leftovers from this and that," he said.
"Luckily these are things that we can do for them: we know how to fix weapons, how to maintain them, find problems and fix them."
Since he arrived, five months ago, the rebel arsenal has become "five times more powerful" he claims. The fighters have attained large caliber anti-aircraft guns and sniper rifles.
He said the Syrian rebels are never out of reach of Assad's air power.
"In Libya, with the no-fly zone, we were able to build up say 1,400 to 1,500 men in one place and have platoons and brigades. Here we have men scattered here, there and everywhere.
"One of the biggest factors delaying the revolution is the lack of unity among the rebels," he said.
"Unfortunately, it is only when their back is up against the wall that they start to realise they should [unite].
"This is not just about the fall of Assad. This is about the Sunni Muslims of Syria taking back their country and pushing out the minority that have been oppressing them for generations now," Najjar said.
As a member of the Umma Brigade, lead by Harati, Najjar said thousands more Sunni fighters from the Arab in neighboring countries are prepared to join the cause. However, Harati’s unit is reluctant to recruit them as he does not want his cause “tarnished by the perception that foreign Islamists are linked to al Qaeda,” Najjar said.
"The Western governments are bringing this upon themselves. The longer they leave this door open for this torture and this massacre to carry on, the more young men will drop what they have in this life and search for the afterlife," Najjar said.
"If the West and other countries do not move fast it will no longer be just guys like me - normal everyday guys that might do anything from have a cigarette to go out on the town - it will be the real extreme guys who will take it to another level."
Where does the term “the luck of the Irish” come from?