By: Macer Gifford
There is no weapon in the arsenals of the worlds terrorists more frightening or revolting than the deliberate targeting of children. The attack on Manchester has chilling similarities to the 2013 attack on the Qabak School in Iraq. A follower of ISIS drove a suicide truck packed with explosives into a school playground, killing 14 and injuring 90. The attack had no military significance but set off a wave of sectarian violence that fuelled ISIS at a critical time in its development.
Manchester was an attack designed to repulse us but more importantly divide us. We must come out of this atrocity bigger, better and more united than ever. Already we’ve seen a touching display of unity amongst Mancurians, thousands took to the streets with placards of defiance and faith leaders stood shoulder to shoulder at city hall. President Donald Trump said the attack was the actions of a ‘loser’. I disagree, to me it was cold blooded murder by a coward that had forsaken his religion. Salman Abedi was no soldier, he was fearful of men in uniform so targeted the most precious commodities in our society, our children. Its vital that all the communities of Britain unite together and focus their anger on the real enemy of our people, the terrorist group known as the Islamic State.
ISIS is weak. In Iraq, their largest city – Mosul – is close to defeat after months of fighting. In Syria, their capital city of Raqqa is being encircled by tens of thousands of SDF fighters. Coalition airstrikes and vicious ground battles have decimated their fighters. Most of the grinning, arrogant Western Jihadists that fled the safety of the West and boasted about ’five star jihad’ are long since dead. Those that have survived are futureless, they are either preparing for death in Raqqa, have fled to Turkey or have returned home.
I have been fighting the Islamic State since 2014. I first joined the YPG, the military of the Syrian Kurds that impressed the world with its heroic defence of Kobane. Since the formation of the SDF, I have been battling alongside people of all faiths and ethnicities. We have had extraordinary success over the past 3 years and I’ve fought in some of the most bloody battles in the history of the Civil War. Ordinary Syrians are finally taking their country back, as an Englishman in their ranks, its a privilege for me to see the democratic will of the Syrian people resist the murderous thugs of ISIS.
What drove me to risk my life in Syria was the reluctance of the UK government to confront the Islamic State in any significant way. I do not blame Britain completely for the rise of ISIS but there is little doubt our actions in 2006 were a direct contributor. If the UK helped create the conditions for extremists to thrive then shouldn’t we be the first to strike back?
Unfortunately, our record in Syria doesn’t come close to our efforts in Iraq. We didn’t start bombing until December 2015. There is no British aid relief going to any areas of Northern Syria affected by the fighting. We have only provided limited political and military support to local partners. Even then the entirety of that support has gone to the FSA, which is a divided, weak and increasingly isolated organisation. My own group – the SDF – is secular, democratic, supported by the USA and on the verge of taking Raqqa, yet it receives nothing from the UK.
I hope the shock of the Manchester attacks wakes Britain up from its self imposed exile from the world stage. If the attack on Britain wasn’t planned or funded in Raqqa, then it was at least inspired by the creatures that hold the city. Its about time Britain declared war on the so-called Islamic State. Our response should include nothing less than a significant increase in airstrikes, military equipment to the SDF and a greater focus on providing humanitarian aid to liberated areas.
I will soon be going to Raqqa to fight in my last campaign in Syria. It will no doubt be the most dangerous and difficult experience of my life. What gives me strength is the knowledge that I’m doing the right thing. ISIS is the enemy of humanity, contributing to their decline has become my life’s work. If Britain is the country that I believe it to be, then I hope it reaches out to the SDF and stands shoulder to shoulder with the Syrian people when they take Raqqa back.
Macer Gifford is a British volunteer with the Kurdish YPG units and the Western-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, fighting against ISIS in northern Syria.
For the latest news follow us on Twitter
Join our Weekly Newsletter