EASTERN MOSUL, IRAQ “So I’m a sniper, right, and I see four IS guys approaching. I’m on a roof. I take down two of them. Then the rifle jams. And they’re coming forward. So I make it down the stairs, and I throw a grenade as theyre in the courtyard of the house. One of them’s killed outright. The other’s badly wounded. So he’s lying there, in a bad way, can hardly move, so I disarm him, he has a rifle and also a pistol. He’s calling to his friend, it seems. In Russian. He was a Russian. But the friend isn’t answering because he’s dead. So he looks over at me and he can see I’m making the pistol ready. I don’t speak Russian and I guess he realized the friend wasn’t answering. So he looks at me and he says to me in Arabic ‘Don’t you fear God?’ So I tell him ‘no’ and put two bullets in his brain.”
Zeidan, a wounded fighter of the Hashd al-Watani militia, badly hurt in the fight against IS in the Hay al-Arabi section of eastern Mosul city, finishes his story with a delighted laugh.
He shows me a picture of the man he killed on his phone. There is a bushy black beard beneath the shattered skull. Then a picture of a damaged Russian passport found on the body. “He was probably Chechen. Most of the Russian citizens you’ll find with IS aren’t Russians. They’re from the Caucasus,” I say. “He’s Russian,” Zeidan replies, “He was speaking Russian.” I begin to say something else, and then decide not to bother.
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