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Captive ISIS Member: "I was Forced to...
Rojava
By Andrea Milluzzi
11 Dec 2014

Fighting between ISIS militants and Kurdish groups in northeastern Syria has left a large number of killed or injured fighters as well as many prisoners of war on both sides.

When ISIS took control over rebel-held cities in Syria, many men joined ISIS, either by choice or by force.

This is a video of interviews with two ISIS militants captured by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the province of Hasakah. They both claim that they were coerced into joining the militia group and were given “hallucinogenic pills” before fighting. One of the prisoners was preparing for a suicide bomb.

The captive fighters talk about their experience before joining ISIS, while they fought with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the reasons why they joined ISIS and their future plans if they were freed by the YPG.

ABBAS HUSSEIN AL ASSI

(00:03) Tell me your name, your age, where do you come from and why did you join ISIS

(00:12) My name is Abbas Hussein Al Assi, I am 25 years old, and I come from Tal Hamis in Al Hasaka Governorate. I started fighting with the FSA and I joined the Islamic State by force.

(00:34) What year did you join ISIS and for how long? And how long did you stay with the FSA?

(00:47) I stayed for almost a year with ISIS. I also fought with the FSA for a year, too.

(00:58) Where and when did they capture you?

(01:02) They captured me while I was preparing myself for a suicide attack, nearly a month ago.

(01:15) Why did you join the FSA?

(01:21) The main reason I joined the FSA is the salary they gave me. I was paid 25,000 Syrian pounds (around $142) [a month].

(01:31)What was that monthly salary that ISIS paid you?

(01:33) ISIS did not give me any salary.

(01:37) Do you have any news from your relatives?

(01:40) No.

(01:42) What was the purpose of your suicide attack?

(01:48) My purpose was to go to heaven.

(01:56) Are you 100% sure that after a suicide attack you will go to heaven?

(02:02) Yes.

(02:08) When you took the decision of doing a suicide attack, did you not think that you will leave your family and friends and die?

(02:25) They [ISIS] were brainwashing us.

(02:29) What do you think now of the Islamic State?

(02:33) I regret [joining] it.

(02:36) If they [YPG] set you free, will you still think of carrying out a suicide attack?

(02:44) No. I want to join them [YPG] against ISIS.

(02:48) So, do you hate the Islamic State now?

(02:50) Yes.

(02:52) Do you think ISIS does it work by brainwashing people?

(02:58) Yes. They use drugs to brainwash us.

(03:03) Are you religious?

(03:11) Yes, I am very religious.

(03:13) But using drugs is against Islam, right?

(03:20) It is, but they issue a fatwa to make it religiously lawful.

HUSSEIN AL ABDUL

(03:22) Tell me about yourself

(03:26) My name is Hussein Al Abdul, and I am 23 years old. I come from Tal Hamis in Al Hasakah Governorate. I started as a Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighter before I joined the Islamic State.

(03:44) Why did you join?

(03:46) I joined by force.

(03:53) I was fighting with the FSA for almost eight months before ISIS took control over the city and I was obliged to join them. I fought with them for almost a year and four months.

(04:03) When and why were you captured?

(04:06) It has been almost 13 days that the [Kurdish] People’s Protection Units [YPG] captured me; I was ambushed during the fighting.

(04:14) Do you believe in the idea of an Islamic State and the Caliphate and why?

(04:23) At first I never accepted the idea of an Islamic State, but once I joined, I started to support it. We were taught lessons about [fighting] in the field and Sharia.

(04:45) Do you think the Islamic State is right? What are the goals you wish to achieve with the Islamic State?

(05:01) The path of the Islamic State is the right path. I wish that an Islamic State will be established.

(05:05) In which areas have you fought since you joined the Islamic State?

(05:13) I fought in Iraq, mostly in Mosul.

(05:36) When ISIS first invaded Mosul, were you one of the fighters?

(05:38) Yes.

(05:40) In your opinion, is life in Mosul now better than it was before ISIS?

(05:55) No. We thought that when we occupied Mosul life would be better, but when we took over from the Iraqi government, things did not go as expected.

(06:05) This means life in the areas under ISIS control is not better now

(06:12) We always thought we could make things better in the cities we occupy. But then insecurity and instability spread in these areas.

(06:20) Do you think the Islamic State will win this war?

(06:27) At first, I thought ISIS will win, but considering the number of killed and injured ISIS fighters I don’t think the group will win.

(06:42) Do you have Christian friends?

(06:44) No, I do not.

(06:47) Have you never had any encounter with a Christian person?

(06:55) When I was fighting with the FSA I had relationships with people from all sects. But when I joined ISIS, we had to kill them.

(07:08) You say you never had any problem with being in contact with a person from another sect. Why, after you joined the Islamic State, did you start to think that these people should be killed?

(07:28) After we took lessons in Sharia, we realized that Christians should either be killed or convert to Islam.

(07:34) Don’t you think that what you learned from the Islamic State is wrong and inhumane?

(07:44) At first, we thought it was right. But when they [YPG members] captured us and treated us in a good way, we realized that what we learned from ISIS is wrong.

(07:54) Are you married? Do you have children?

(07:56) Yes I am married but I do not have children.

(08:00) What does your wife think about you?

(08:02)) She does not know about all this.

(08:03) Does your family have the same ideology as ISIS?

(08:05) No.

(08:08) How could you be with your wife if she does not like the Islamic State?

(08:12) I left her.

(08:15) When did you leave her and why?

(08:18) I left her almost a month before I joined ISIS. We faced some problems in our relationship.

(08:24) If they [YPG] set you free, what will you do?

(08:33) At first I thought I will join the Islamic State again. But now, after they treated me in a good way and after I realized I was wrong; I will not join ISIS again.

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Release of Captured Syrian Army Soldi...
Aleppo, Syria
By Activist Halabi
07 May 2014

May 8, 2014

Aleppo, Syria

Forty Syrian Army soldiers and members of pro-Assad forces, who had been held prisoner by the Free Syria Army, were released in exchange for safe passage out of the city of Homs for more than 15-hundred rebel fighters.
The release took place in Aleppo on May 8, 2014 during a temporary truce.
Video includes an interview with captured Syrian Army soldiers and Madar Najar, a leader of the Islamic Front..

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Old Aleppo
By Nicolas Tomani
07 Apr 2014

An alley in Aleppo's old souks ravaged by the fighting and fire. Since 2012, fightings between the Syrian regime and the rebels have been ongoing in Syria's second main city. The souks are one of the oldest in the world.

صورة لاحدى أزقة حلب القديمة و هي بالمناطق المسيطر عليها من قبل الجيش السوري الحر

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Time kids to school despite the heavy...
aleppo
By Activist Halabi
07 Oct 2013

Report on the status of schools in the city of Aleppo and students time despite the heavy bombardment experienced by the city daily

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Life In The Graves - La Vie Dans Les ...
Shanshrah, Idlib province, Syria
By Marie
13 Apr 2013

Hygiene is very bad on the Shansharah archeological site, Idlib region. They fled the air strikes without being able to bring their personal belongings.

Les conditions d'hygiène des populations déplacées dans le site archéologique de Shansharah dans la région d'Idleb sont déplorables. Ils ont fui les bombardements sans pouvoir emporter leurs affaires personnelles.

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Dead Cities 3
Syria, Idlib province
By Maciej Moskwa
01 Feb 2013

A girl named Samar, who suffers from Leishmania; a tropical disease.

Syria, Shensharah. Feb 02 2013.

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Stories in Tents, Qah Refugee Camp (1...
Idlib, Syria
By Jodi Hilton
12 Dec 2012

An FSA soldier at Qah Camp for displaced Syrians on December 12, 2012. The same doctor reported high incidence of diarrhea, lung infections and hepatitis A among the population of nearly 3600 displaced Syrians.

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Syria - A Step Away From Heaven (17 o...
Kilis, Turkey
By Michele Pero
06 Dec 2012

Wounded and injured people arrive every day from the Syrian border to Kilis. They can have a first rescue at the Sağlık Bakanlığı Kilis Hospital in Turkey, right after the border. Some of them are rebels and fighters with the Free Syria Army. Some others are just civilians which were in the wrong place at the wrong moment. Their stories are weird. Who was sitting at the barber shop when the bomb blasted, who was buying fruit a the local bazar in Halep, who was just walking on the street with friends now dead, who was driving his car when the MIG arrived to bomb the street.
Others, the fighters of the FSA, were wounded during battles, such as the boy just arrived with an injure to his right arm. He was fighting in downtown Halep right on December 7th when a bomb hit very close his area. An electric pole felt down, hitting some of them. The electric wire burned his arm. He’s going to be taken to a more specialize hospital for injuries due to bursts.
In a building very close to the Kilis Hospital there is a Syrian hospital for the convalescence of other wounded civilians and rebels. They have found a place here for to stay until they will be able to walk on their own legs again. Others are waiting for their new artificial legs. They will need to learn how to walk with them before to leave the hospital.
A step away from Heaven. Some of them don’t know if they will survive the difficult surgery operations they have to undergo. Some others will go fighting again, as soon as their conditions will allow them to do so. Some of them will probably soon go to join the other stars on the sky of martyrdom for the freedom of Syria.

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Syria - A Step Away From Heaven (16 o...
Kilis, Turkey
By Michele Pero
06 Dec 2012

Ibrahim Asì, from Halep, 20 years old, fighter of the Free Syrian Army in the center of Halep. December 7th, a MIG has released a bomb right over the brigade. An electric wire hit him to his right arm and he got burst.

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Syria - A Step Away From Heaven (15 o...
Kilis, Turkey
By Michele Pero
06 Dec 2012

Ibrahim Asì, from Halep, 20 years old, fighter of the Free Syrian Army in the center of Halep. December 7th, a MIG has released a bomb right over the brigade. An electric wire hit him to his right arm and he got burst.

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Syria - A Step Away From Heaven (14 o...
Kilis, Turkey
By Michele Pero
06 Dec 2012

Abdullah Rustom, from Haien, a nearby Halep village. Abdullah is fruit seller and he's 40. He was shot by a sniper to his right leg while was back from work, nearby Tarrefat.

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Syria - A Step Away From Heaven (13 o...
Kilis, Turkey
By Michele Pero
06 Dec 2012

Abdullah Rustom, from Haien, a nearby Halep village. Abdullah is fruit seller and he's 40. He was shot by a sniper to his right leg while was back from work, nearby Tarrefat.

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Syria - A Step Away From Heaven (12 o...
Kilis, Turkey
By Michele Pero
06 Dec 2012

Hedi Lolak is a 23 years old shoemaker in Rae'e, a village near Halep. Hedi fights with the brigade Hulafel Al Rashidin. On November 30th he was walking with three friends in Ayn Altel, Halep, when a bomb killed his three firends and injured him.

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Syria - A Step Away From Heaven (11 o...
Kilis, Turkey
By Michele Pero
06 Dec 2012

Eyub Taha, 24, civilian, vegetable seller. He was having a hair cut when a bombing occurred. He does not remeber anything of that moment, till he waked up in the hospital of Kilis. He has reported a leg fracture.

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Syria - A Step Away From Heaven (9 of...
Kilis, Turkey
By Michele Pero
06 Dec 2012

Wounded Syrian fighters of the Free Syria Army in the Kilis hospital for Syrian people. In this on purpose set up structure, refugees and wounded rebels can have cure for their needs.

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Syria - A Step Away From Heaven (7 of...
Kilis, Turkey
By Michele Pero
06 Dec 2012

Yousef Abbas, head of Free Syria Army of the brigade Liwa Al Tawhid, fighting in the north of the country. Wounded in more parts of his body, he's recovering for to go back to fight for free Syria.

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Syria - A Step Away From Heaven (6 of...
Kilis, Turkey
By Michele Pero
06 Dec 2012

Mohannad, the kid in the corner, and Mahros Ashoy, on the bed, have reported injuries to their legs during a bombing in Halep.

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Syria - A Step Away From Heaven (5 of...
Kilis, Turkey
By Michele Pero
06 Dec 2012

Mohammad Omar, hit on his head by a shell in Halep. Now he is semi paralyzed with his body.

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Syria - A Step Away From Heaven (4 of...
Kilis, Turkey
By Michele Pero
06 Dec 2012

Wounded Syrian fighters of the Free Syria Army in the Kilis hospital for Syrian people. In this on purpose set up structure, refugees and wounded rebels can have cure for their needs.

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Syria - A Step Away From Heaven (2 of...
Kilis, Turkey
By Michele Pero
06 Dec 2012

A private building has been set up for to keep convalescent wounded civilians and rebels of the Free Syria Army, in Kilis.

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Syria - A Step Away From Heaven (10 o...
Kilis, Turkey
By Michele Pero
06 Dec 2012

Nagib Urabi, from Halep. He arrived here on Monday December 3rd. Under a bombing he took a shell on his leg. He ha s lost the use of the right foot. He cannot be back to walking anymore. He's 43, civilian, and works in a financial company in Halep.

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Syria - A Step Away From Heaven (3 of...
Kilis, Turkey
By Michele Pero
06 Dec 2012

Wounded Syrian fighters of the Free Syria Army in the Kilis hospital for Syrian people. In this on purpose set up structure, refugees and wounded rebels can have cure for their needs.

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Surviving In A Ghost Town, Halep, Syr...
Aleppo, Syria
By Michele Pero
02 Dec 2012

Downtown Halep, quarters of Bustan al-Pasha and Sakhour, December 2012.
The town is partially controlled by the brigades of the Free Syria Army. Snipers hidden in isolated buildings oblige to fast crossing the large and open avenues. Some people try to continue their normal life in downtown, still occupying their houses, even if the majority have been left to the refugees camps towards the borders of the country.
MIGs and helicopters by Bashar Al Assad regime are continuously releasing rockets and barrel-bombs over the buildings. A quick look at the sky, some strikes, the blast and gray smoke lifts not too far from where we are. Another building hit, some people wounded and injured will be soon added to the list.
Daily life in Halep is pretty scary. The regime is now releasing big barrels filled with explosive. They release these bombs over the town, wherever they like. No targets are aimed. They through them here and there. No one can be safe in any shelter. Shelters actually won’t work. Halep is a very ancient town and its buildings are really weak. In spite of that some citizens are still keeping their homes here, still trying to lead a normal life, together with the rebels of the Free Syria Army which fight on two front lines: one against the regular forces of the regime, one other against the Kurds minority which supports the regime. In the middle, them, the citizens of Halep, trying to survive in a ghost town, partially destroyed, under the daily bombings of such a craziness.

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Zaatari Refugee Camp: A Mother Says G...
Mafraq, Jordan
By Melissa Tabeek
31 Oct 2012

Ahmad, 11, stands next to his mother Naghareesh, 42, in the trailer where he and his seven other siblings live in Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp. His father, Assad Abderaheem, was killed seven months ago while fighting with the Free Syria Army in Dara’a. Ahmad’s brother Mohammad, 16, was leaving on this day to go back to Syria and fight with the FSA as his father did. “When I signed for Mohammad [to go back to Syria], my heart was breaking. But there’s nothing I can do,” Naghareesh said on October 31, 2012.

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CitiAct Organized Protest for the 11 ...
Beirut, Lebanon
By mkleit
10 Aug 2012

Son of one of the abducted fathers by the Free Syrian Army

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Mourning Death of Brothers
Taftanaz, Syria
By Rachel Beth Anderson
29 Apr 2012

Taftanaz, Syria

Family members mourn the death of their two brothers who were members of the FSA.

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A Child Sleeps With Weapons
Taftanaz, Syria
By Rachel Beth Anderson
29 Apr 2012

Taftanaz, Syria

A child sleeps under weapons hung inside an FSA headquarters in the city of Taftanaz.

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Mourning Death of Sons
Taftanaz, Syria
By Rachel Beth Anderson
29 Apr 2012

Taftanaz, Syria
Mourning the death of their two sons who were members of the FSA and killed by government forces.

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Mourning Death of Sons
Taftanaz, Syria
By Rachel Beth Anderson
29 Apr 2012

Taftanaz, Syria
Mourning the death of their two sons who were members of the FSA and killed by government forces.

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Mourning Death of Brothers
Taftanaz, Syria
By Rachel Beth Anderson
29 Apr 2012

Taftanaz, Syria

Family members mourn the death of their two brothers who were members of the FSA.

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Checkpoint Outside Taftanaz
Taftanaz, Syria
By Rachel Beth Anderson
29 Apr 2012

Taftanaz, Syria

Checkpoint guarded by Free Syrian Army outside Taftanaz.

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Checkpoint Outside Taftanaz
Taftanaz, Syria
By Rachel Beth Anderson
29 Apr 2012

Taftanaz, Syria

Checkpoint guarded by Free Syrian Army outside Taftanaz.