“Mistakes Were Made” — Interview With A Captured ISIS Fighter In Syria
RMELAN — “The [U.S.-led coalition’s] airstrikes have weakened ISIS. We can no longer make any progress. Our oil fields and refineries have been hit.”
Ahmad Derwish, 29, speaks calmly, his gaze fixed on me and the Arabic translator. The ISIS fighter had been brought into the Syrian police station’s room blindfolded and handcuffed, wearing orange plastic sandals and sporting the long beard characteristic of Islamic extremists.
He says the terrorist group is clear about its plans.
“As long as the coalition attacks our caliphate in Syria and Iraq, we’ll carry out attacks in Europe.”
Derwish was captured about a month ago during the offensive on al-Shaddadi, in the northeastern al-Hasakah region, an operation during which the Syrian Kurd, Arab and Turkmen soldiers that make the Syrian Democratic Forces gained control of the area.
The coalition carried out 86 airstrikes during the fighting. More than 500 people were killed, among them 400 ISIS fighters.
Derwish’s left hand is completely burned, his right arm is wrapped in gauze and his head shows wounds covered with dried blood. He was an emir, a commander in al-Shaddadi area, a strategic city located halfway between the two so-called capitals of the “Islamic State,” Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq.
For the interview, Derwish was brought from a secret prison in northern Syria, where he usually spends his days in isolation. The soldier bringing him hides his face behind a mask, for fear of retaliation.