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In his own words: Jac Holmes on fighting IS in Syria

Jac Holmes had been fighting Islamic State in Syria since 2015. Credit: Jac Holmes/Facebook

A British man who is believed to have died fighting against Islamic State in Syria gave his personal insight into life on the frontlines of the fight against the terror group.

Jac Holmes, 24, died while clearing mines in Raqqa, his mother said.

He had been fighting alongside Kurdish YPG forces in Syria since 2015.

The sniper, who worked in a crew of four foreign fighters, kept his followers updated with pictures and live streams on social media.

His final post was a Facebook Live Q+A on 4 October.

Here is what he said.

  • Life as a volunteer fighting Islamic State

"It's hard, it's a lot of work. You can either sit around doing nothing for six months, or you can be in the s*** all the time. It's all on the Kurds, what they let you do."

He then joked: "When I finish up this Facebook Live I'm going to go to the bar, get a few drinks. Play poker with a few daesh [IS fighters], take their money."

  • Day to day on the front

"Typically you'll sit in a building, you're not supposed to leave, and you'll sit there all day and all night, doing guard, waiting for daesh to attack you, but if daesh choose not to attack you'll just be sat there doing nothing, eating, sleeping.

"There'll be airstrikes going on in various places around you, most of the day, mortars. You can't stand in windows and look around because you'll get shot by a sniper probably.

"So basically if you're lucky daesh will attack you. If you're unlucky nothing will happen and you'll sit there hungry, bored, and tired."

  • Why he volunteered

"Because I was sick of seeing what was going on in Syria, and western nations not doing enough to help, and that nobody knew what was going on here, and nobody gave a s***.

"So I decided I was going to come over here and fight myself, because, it's as much as I could do for the situation.

"There isn't a lot you can do from back home. I know you can raise money and send aid and raise awareness but that's not me. People who do that are great. But I can't do that kind of stuff, I wanted to come and fight."

Jac Holmes kept his followers on Facebook up to date when he could. Credit: Jac Holmes/Facebook
  • Fighting Islamic State fighters

"ISIS are very well trained and the majority are very experienced. The morons you see in the videos and that is not your average ISIS fighter. Your average ISIS fighter is smart, well trained, well experienced, and they're f****** crazy."

He adds this on their tactics for repelling the YPG advances: "Generally they set up a whole row of mines on a street and all the buildings, then they pull back 200 metres, set up snipers, and guys on guard, and they let us basically walk into the mines while trying to shoot us to slow our advance."

  • A close call

Holmes recalls a time they came under attack from IS and were stuck upstairs in a building with IS fighters downstairs trying to smoke them out by setting a fire.

"I threw one of the suicide belts that I took in the morning off a dead daesh from a few days before, out of the window onto the street and then after seeing how awesome the explosion was I threw the other one down the stairs and - massive explosion - blew a load of dust up, we were choking, blind for around 10 minutes, but pretty sure they f***** off after that, because there was nothing after that and the fire went out."

  • His equipment

He says he has an M16-A4 with a silencer and scope. The YGP used to give people whatever weapon they wanted, he added, but it is no longer like that because a lot more foreigners have turned up.

Jac is believed to have died while clearing mines in Raqqa. Credit: Jac Holmes/Facebook
  • On joining the YPG

He tells anyone who wants to help to get in touch with the YPG, adding he can't help anyone to join himself. They will find out how, if they really want to help, he adds.

"Tours are as long as you want, but minimum of six months."

  • What's the most risky thing about fighting in Raqqa

"Dying? I don't know. Mines, snipers, the fact there's so many buildings you don't know where people are."

  • Keeping occupied when not fighting

"Eating sleeping, reading, I don't read a lot my self. Cleaning your weapon, yourself and you clothes, smoking cigarettes, talking s***."

  • On how many friends he has lost in the fight

"200 at least. Can't remember."

  • On his family missing him

"They are in England, and I'll see them when I get back," he said, adding they will probably feel "pretty happy" when he's not in Syria anymore.