Russian media outlet Russkaya Vesna posted a Youtube video showing an ISIS fighter, Hamed Al Hasep telling about his time in ISIS. According to Russkaya Vesna website, Hamed al-Hasep was captured by the Syrian Arab Army’s Tiger Forces near Deir ez-Zor a few weeks earlier.
The story below is based on the article provided by Russkaya Vesna:
46-year-old al-Hasep initially joined the al-Nusra Front in 2013, because of poor financial state of his family, as farming didn’t get them enough money. His hopes did not come to fruition though, and al-Nusra commanders, as he said, used the militants only as cannon fodder.
In 2015, when ISIS came to his village on the south-east of Deir ez-Zor province, al-Hasep, and the majority of people from the battalion he was in, did not resist, and switched sides to ISIS instead. The men, who decided to stay loyal to the al-Nusra Front, were executed.
Hamed said that he hadn’t been sent to the front immediately. His main responsibility was driving trucks full of crude oil to the Syrian-Turkish border, where he would sell the oil to the Turks for low price. A 50 gal barrel would be sold for about $22-25 USD. The profit would be spent on weapons, ammo and salaries. The salary was about $100-150 USD, which wasn’t all that much more than the al-Nusra payed.
A few months later, he and some other militants were asked to go to a training camp called Kseiba in Iraq, 20 km away from Abu Kamal. According to Hamed, there were Americans, Sudanese, Kazakh people.
The head of the training camp was a Saudi Arabian citizen, with the second most important being a United States citizen nicknamed Abu Khumar, who sometimes took charge of training.
After finishing up the training, al-Hasep left Iraq and went back to Syria, where he led a sabotage unit consisting of seven people. They would conduct reconnaissance, raid the villages, capture Syrian military personnel and execute the captured. He denies killing civilians, claiming that his unit opposed the governmental troops exclusively. He took part in fighting near the air base to the south of Deir ez-Zor.
Following the extension of the buffer zone near the air base, about a thousand of ISIS militants were deployed to Al-Hasakah province under Kurdish control. Some of the militants were trained at the US military bases, some were planned to be included into the Syrian Democratic Forces. Al-Hasep claims seeing US helicopters helping transport the militants.
“ISIS would be over and done with, if it didn’t receive support from foreign countries,” Russkaya Vesna quoted him as saying. He allegedly added that equipment, weapons and ammo came primarily from the US and Israel.
Despite this support, the militants have low morale. The propaganda continues to circulate within the units, with certain clerics invited to raise the fighters’ spirits, but with diminishing results. Even the militants that have agreed to train at the US bases try to run away.