‘I left Britain to fight ISIS in Syria and killed 250 jihadis as a sniper’

Looking through the scope of his sniper rifle, Azad Cudi caught sight of an Islamic State fighter preparing to fire a rocketpropelled grenade straight at him.

The jihadi ducked behind a wall, but the tip of the rocket was protruding, giving Azad a chance of shooting it to make it explode.

Then, in an act of suicidal madness, the Islamist emerged from behind the wall and started walking towards Azad with the rocket on his shoulder.

“Surprised by his boldness, I struggled to follow him in my sights,” recalls Azad, 35, an Iranian Kurd and British citizen who now lives in the north of England.

“I could see he was looking straight at me. I fired. His shoulder dropped. I was sure I’d got him. I steadied my aim for a second shot.

"But when I looked through the scope, I glimpsed the flash of a rocket flying towards me.”

Caught in the shock wave of the blast, Azad was sent flying.

When he came to, in a swirl of dust and debris, one of his comrades lay motionless and another had lost two fingers.

Then he noticed blood oozing from his thigh.

Fearing another rocket, Azad dragged himself across the room to the window, grabbed his rifle and scanned the horizon.

Suddenly, a car bomb went off, throwing him across the room again.

 Luckily help was on hand to carry him to a makeshift hospital, where a surgeon opened his wound to look for shrapnel, not realising it had passed right through his leg.

Azad’s book, Long Shot, which is published next week, gives a flavour of what it was really like to fight ISIS warriors in close combat.

Azad believes he killed 250 fighters as a sniper but says some of his comrades killed twice as many, showing just how effective they were at picking off ISIS one by one.

Ironically, he came to the UK aged 19, fleeing conscription into the Iranian army whose leaders wanted him to fight Kurds – his own people.

When civil war ripped Syria apart in 2011, allowing ISIS to enter the country, Azad could not continue his quiet city life.

He joined the Kurdish volunteer army, the YPG, becoming one of 17 snipers trying to get IS out of Kobani, a small city in northern Syria near war-ravaged Aleppo.

Murderous jihadis slaughtered hundreds inside the city and forced thousands to flee.

In just a few months a thriving area became a bomb-scarred wasteland. It was into this chilling environment that Azad arrived in 2013, following some hasty sniper training with old rifles and sights.

Recalling those dreadful days from the peace of his home in England, Azad told The Express : “Kobani was a brutal place, nothing was normal.

"The market was destroyed, streets destroyed, there were no signs of civilisation. Looking at the wrecked homes felt like you were being hit in the face.”

Although the YPG could call on Allied forces for air strikes, on the ground most of the fighting was street by street, house by house.

One of Azad’s jobs was to identify where ISIS fighters were based and take them out one by one as others prepared to storm the wrecked houses.

“Many of our comrades had to face advances in the same house,” says Azad matter of factly, as though discussing football.

“In once instance ISIS put a wooden board across a street to get into the fourth floor of one of our buildings.

“We had people on the second and third floors so in that case the fighting was intense, face to face.

“Although death is very close you have to think about how to survive, so you fight back.

“You also have to deal with complicated difficult situations, losing your comrades and shooting a comrade by mistake.

“Everyone says that diamonds are made under pressure and I think there is some truth in that.

“You develop a survival mechanism within to cope. You try not to break down, so you keep your head high.

“When I was hit I saw the colour of death. I experienced its wild emotions. This is extraordinary to experience and you appreciate being alive and look at life with a new purpose and meaning.

“ISIS were determined to the point where they brought spoons to battle in preparation for a feast with the prophet.

“Some also brought keys, big keys, so that if they died they could walk through the gates of Heaven. They were all hyper on the illusion.

"There were others who were drugged by real drugs. We found many pills, ecstasy and other drugs.”

Azad had no romantic illusions about fighting, saying there was no glamour or even heroics.

He explains: “The reasons I did what I did, I was defending my land, my people, civilians.

“There was a young boy I shot. I had no choice. I had a problem putting myself together after that. I shot one jihadi when he was looking back at me.

“When I was writing the book I was reliving those events and sometimes I could not sleep for three or four nights.

“I was a little bit paralysed going back in my mind. I was feeling some sort of regret, but I am not haunted now by the experience of doing those things.

“I was ready to die then and I am ready to die again to fight for my people, our ideas and our community. I have peace in my heart and mind.

“Writing the book has helped me digest what happened, but it was exhausting.”

Living in Britain has helped Azad unwind from the pressures of war, but he faces daily battles with normal life, meeting friends to talk about what happened.

“It can be tough, but the most difficult period has already passed,” he says. “I like having time to myself, just taking it easy, settling down and carrying on with my life.”

However, Azad knows there are ISIS supporters living in Britain and Europe who would put him at the top of their list of revenge attacks.

“There are sleeper cells which could be anywhere but I have my security and I am careful,” he says.

“I am lucky to be living in an open, democratic society and I appreciate my life in Britain.”

Now Azad hopes to return to Kobani to help the Kurdish community there rebuild after years of devastation.

  • To order Long Shot: My Life As A Sniper In The Fight Against ISIS by Azad Cudi, £20, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, call 01872 562310 with your card details. Alternatively, send a cheque made payable to Express Bookshop to Long Shot Offer, PO Box 200, Falmouth TR11 4WJ, or go to expressbookshop.co.uk . UK delivery is free.

Source: Read Full Article