Joshua Molloy, a soldier in the Kurdish Army fighting Isis in Syria, has returned from the battlefield to Ireland and described what battling the Islamic fanatics is like. He is a former soldier in the British Army. Molloy, a County Laois native, spoke with RTE radio host Marian Finucane on Ireland's national radio station. He has also been interviewed by newspapers. He stated he joined the Kurdish group known as the YPG via Facebook and trained in one of their training camps.
“Initially I was nervous. You don’t have an appetite or anything like that. You’re faced with this weird situation where you could be wiped out at any moment.
Molloy described his unit as a “rag-tag militia,” with “kids” as young as 16-years-old involved in the fighting.
He described how ISIS cut the throats of any of his unit's members that they captured and how often times untrained recruits blew themselves up with grenades. They lived in fear of ISIS overrunning their camp. He called ISIS “brutal and ignorant”
He said many people had the wrong idea about foreign soldiers who go to fight. "They assume you’re an adrenaline junkie or a lunatic. I dropped a lot to come there, it wasn’t an easy decision to make. Getting on that plane was both the hardest and easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life, it definitely wasn’t something that I just did lightly."
During his time with the rebel group, he was usually one of about five westerners placed in a Kurdish unit of about 40 people or so.
In a recently published interview with the Irish Mail on Sunday he said that the fighting can be very unpredictable.
“On my first frontline battle in Tell Tamer, I walked the same route five, maybe six, times a day. I was so comfortable, then one day bullets rained down on me from ISIS fighters I hadn’t observed. That sort of thing gives you a reality check. The comfort is taken away.”
He says that on one particular occasion he was less than 40 yards from those he was fighting against.
"I could hear him shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he was charging towards us. It was a failed assault on the village in front of us. The whole thing was just chaos and confusion and a lot of panicking.
Their main fear was being captured by the barbaric ISIS forces. “All of us thought we’d die,” he recalled, saying he and his fellow soldiers would rather be killed than “be handed over to these people.”
When asked if he had killed anyone, Molloy said: “Honestly, I don’t know.”
He decided to come home, he stated, after the fighting left him “exhausted” and “demoralized.”
“I had been out there for nine months and I felt that was enough.”
Molloy and other westerners were captured when they tried to return home through Iraq. However, the gang who captured them was forced to let them go following international pressure.
He described the war in Syria, which has been going on for five-and-a-half years and has seen over 300,000 people killed, as confusing as to who is with whom and “shapeshifting” with a lot of “misinformation” and “propaganda floating around.”
“The war against ISIS is only just a slice of the conflict,” he said.
He said he “learnt a lot from the experience” and “didn’t go over thinking I’d be a hero … and take down ISIS,” rather he just wanted to be “another pair of boots on the ground” in a conflict with no end in sight.
"I felt this war was not just about the horrific crimes ISIS was committing against people, but it was also a war on their history, a sort of cultural genocide.
"They were just erasing Christian and Yazidi communities. It was brutal and ignorant.
He told the Irish Mirror: "After a while it just makes you weary. There's only so much you can do. My opinions on everything have changed now."