"Mike" is a 31-year-old former Norwegian soldier. He has worked in the Defense much of his life, including three and a half years in the renowned Telemark Battalion, and has in addition served in Afghanistan. Now he has volunteered to fight with the Peshmerga militia against IS in Iraq.
He was tired of being at home in Norway, seeing that nothing happened. Now he finds himself in the front line with a Kurdish division, where he lives, eats, sleeps and fight on their side.
- I want to stay here and fight until Mosul is recaptured from IS. And ideally also be part of the force that will go into the town to drive the enemy out. It has been my goal since I took the decision to travel here in the autumn 2014, when it became known that IS was selling women and children as sex slaves in markets, he says to Nettavisen.
Now he finds himself 25 kilometers from IS-occupied Mosul. Mosul is Iraq's second largest city, and there are chances that he and his division will go in as soon as the operation starts.
IS has recently lost territories and suffered several military defeats and setbacks. The volunteers at the front say many volunteers from the West flock to Iraq to participate in the fighting while they still have the opportunity.
- What was the reason you decided to go?
- There was frustration that had built up over time, frustration that the international community did so little to stop Islamist advancing in Syria and Iraq.
He says it peaked in the autumn of 2014, when IS took Sinjar and started a genocide of the Yazidi population.
- The West's solution was to send relief to people who were slaughtered on their feet, rather than to actually stop the ongoing massacre.
Now "Mike" lives at the front against IS. He has helped his division with training and equipment he has bought himself, like a drone, night optics, binoculars, medical equipment, etc.
- I recently also picked up a group of volunteer veterans from the US, Canada, Britain, Australia and Norway, who provides medical training to local forces at the front, he says.
- I've been afraid several times, but I have also surprised myself by how calm I've been in combat at times. Some of the situations I've been in, has been so unreal that I might not have completely understood the dangers I was exposed to. I have, for example, had hand grenades thrown at me at short range and still had a resting heart, he says.
He does not want to answer whether he has killed someone.
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