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'You could be wiped out at any moment': Irishman on fighting Isis in Syria

Joshua Molloy, a Laois native and ex-British soldier, was arrested when trying to return to Ireland.

AN IRISHMAN WHO fought the so-called Islamic State (Isis) in Syria and Iraq has been speaking out about the experience.

Joshua Molloy returned to Ireland earlier this year after spending nine months fighting the terrorist group in the Middle East.

The Laois native and ex-British soldier first travelled to Syria in March 2015 for three months before returning again in November last year.

Speaking to Marian Finucane on RTÉ Radio 1 today, Molloy said he travelled to Iraq after contacting a group connected to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, commonly known as the YPG, via Facebook.

Molloy said he was trained at a YPG camp in how to use Kalashnikovs and grenades before going into battle with Isis.

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 the set-up as a “rag-tag militia”, with “kids” as young as 16 years old fighting.

He said some of his comrades fell asleep on night-time guard duty while Isis fighters came into their camp and slit fighters’ throats. He added that some of the younger fighters accidentally blew themselves up with grenades or shot themselves.

“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 said he decided to come home after the fighting left him “exhausted” and “demoralised”.

I had been out there for nine months and I felt that was enough.


Molloy and other westerns were arrested as they attempted to return home via Iraq. He said their captors demanded money and said the faced up to 40 years in prison before releasing them. He believes they were freed due to international pressure following media coverage of their arrests.

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Molloy described the war in Syria, which has been ongoing for five-and-a-half years and killed over 300,000 people, as “shapeshifting” with a lot of “misinformation” and “propaganda floating around”.

“The war against Isis is only just a slice of the conflict,” he said.

Molloy said he was the first Irish person to join the fight against ISIS but that others have since joined the battle.

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.

Read: “It wasn’t an easy decision” – Laois soldier Joshua Molloy speaks about why he chose to fight Isis

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Órla Ryan

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