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True evil does exist

Had a bad day? Maybe your morning coffee wasn't up to standard or you forgot your umbrella and it rained.

Here are some words from a New Zealander currently fighting the islamic state (Daesh) in Mosul, Iraq. It's absolutely horrific reading but equally it is extremely important people understand what is at stake.

I have only made minor edits on spelling and removing personally identifiable information.

AKA: Honey, I'm home.

Right, so after spending the last couple of months in Mosul as part of the effort to try to crowbar those Daesh pieces of inhuman scum out of their holes, I'm back in the UAE for a few days off. 
I've done some work in some fairly hostile environments before, but the sheer level of brutality, and the systematic methodology employed by those evil festering shitstains has just been beyond explanation. I'm still trying to come to terms with some of the scenes I've witnessed. It's gonna take more than a couple of beers to put all this into a nice little compartment. I know it'll hit a bit harder in the next few days as I start to decompress, but at least I know how this roller coaster is going to go, and that I'm equipped to deal with it.

I guess I'm writing this mainly as some cathartic confession for myself. There's no way in hell I can explain this to people I know in person, and in the past I've found writing it out early on lets me process some of the shit and then let it go much easier. So buckle up buckaroos, what follows is going to be a bit of a dp into my mind, warts & all, as I unburden some of the crimes against humanity that have been witnessed.

Right. So I was called upon to provide technical support to the local Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams who had the unenviable job of clearing out all the hidden Improvised Explosive Devices, land mines, grenades and every other piece of explosive material that ISIS have laced the city of Mosul with.

Even before I got there, they'd been taking a terrible toll, as many IEDs were being covered by snipers in elevated positions. Every time the teams would attempt to render safe an IED, they'd risk being shot by those f**ks. One team I was with had lost 8 guys in 2 weeks. Considering this was a 6 man team that's pretty unacceptable losses.

This also meant I was working with very, very, green guys who were also very, very scared. When working with High Explosives, green and scared are not optimal conditions. They did, however, utilize their innate gunshy-ness to their advantage and had developed a safer (for them) method of dealing with IEDs. Instead of heroically working their way forward and safely rendering an IED safe, or at least BiPing it (Blow in Place), they'd stay behind cover and just lob increasingly large lumps of C4 plastic explosive at it, detonating them from a safer distance in the hope of triggering a sympathetic detonation.

In fairness, it worked more often than you might think. Hardly scientific, environmentally responsible or likely to be approved by Health and Safety, but yeah, the amount of secondary explosions they triggered made it a more viable tactic than wandering out like a Noddy into open ground and waiting for the bullets to start pinging off helmets. I will not admit to having joined in on lobbing C4 around the place, but these kids just grow up playing football and have no decent throwing arms at all and needed a bit of coaching from someone who made the 3rd XI cricket team at school.

As I wasn't using too much of my technical expertise at all in this regard, I ended up operating mainly as a combat medic, chiefly because the Iraqis have very few, and the Peshmerga don't have ANY. There are a couple of other groups providing medical support (Shout out to the Free Burma Rangers and the NYC Medics), who are doing massive amounts of work in very shitty conditions. I spent much of my time chasing around various units doing as much initial Medical support and initiating the evacuation chain, such as it was, getting as many of these guys out as possible.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the Military or various security forces who were bearing the brunt of ISIS's cuntishness. It was the civilians trapped - literally held hostage - in Mosul. Nobody seems very sure on numbers but maybe a 2-3 thousand (at most) Daesh shitsippers were able to hold may up to half a million civilians in place as human shields. It defies belief, but a couple of well positioned snipers could prevent entire city blocks from leaving.

All these poor bastards have been huddled in bombe out buildings and basements for week, with no good option. Staying or fleeing is just risking being killed by either side. They're f**ked either way. They only venture out once they run out of food/water and have no other options, and then get gunned down with depressing regularity. We tried to move as many of the bodies as we could as we advanced, but as they were invariably out in the open, we often couldn't risk ourselves for a corpse, they'd have to wait and bloat until we'd secured much further down the route, just so we could get to them safely. Just seeing those bodies out there, so many of them women and children was not popular, and many Peshmerga were willing to risk themselves just to clear them out. I saw a couple of guys get hit doing just that... it was such a predictable outcome. f**k me.

So going back to being a medic wasn't bad, but I started spending a lot more time treating civilians than forces, and trying to establish some form of medical evacuation for them. I managed to hook up with a couple of hospitals to the south and began a fairly steady stream of ambulance runs to get the surviving casualties out to the Trauma Stabilization points and then hopefully to the Field Hospitals.

We managed to get so good at getting people out without exsanguinating that people started to survive so damn much that we filled the hospitals in Erbil capable of dealing with Trauma. At a Trauma meeting (excuse to get out, get a shower and some sleep), they were actually complaining at the rate of success from the Field Hospitals - they just han't anticipated such a success rate.

It was pretty grim stuff, much of the time. We'll have no idea of the actual body count ever, bombed out buildings would collapse on any number of families huddled underneath. A lucky few might get pulled out of rubble, but for many it was just a form of burial.

The American airstrike that made all the news was f**k massive. They hit some ginormous munitions dump or whatever... we'll never get accurate numbers of the casualties from that, but it had the one good result of making the coalition forces stop and rethink their methodology. They pulled up short, put a hold on any advancement for what turned out to be a couple of weeks and became a helluva lot more circumspect about hitting any targets without ground identification. They still had a fair bit of success picking off sniper nests, but the crafty Daesh festering assholes had clearly learned a lot from their Chechen advisors, and were often found with thermal blankets sewn into their clothing, to defeat thermal imaging that had been used to try to spot them.

Those Chechens have seriously mastered the art of MOUT urban street fighting, every inch of territory was paid for in blood, and we haven't even properly entered the Old City yet, where the fighting is going to get truly savage. They're also early adopters of new tech, and have been using commercially available drones as recon extremely effectively. They've also been using them to drop grenades on civilians, just one more method of keeping them cowed and too scared to leave.

The ISIS holding Mosul are mainly locals who joined up early on. This is their home territory, and the people they have been terrorizing are their neighbours. It's just so f**ked up to believe this, it makes the former Yugoslavia look like pussies in comparison when you see the depths to which their depravity would sink. Some of the injuries I saw inflicted by these cunts had been slow, systematic, deliberate, and designed to shock the entire population, not just harm one person. Amputations of limbs were common, removal of an eye or a tongue, burns - electrocution, acid, thermal, impalement, especially through genitalia or the abdomen, rape, more rape, rape with chair legs, rape with heated gun barrels, rape with severed limbs, torture of family members in front of others, you name it, they did it to men women and children, without remorse.

One casualty was a 19yr old woman - child really. So emaciated she looked like a 12 yr old - I saw gunned down almost in front of me. She'd crawled out of her hiding hole because she was 9 months pregnant and her waters had broken. The evil, evil cunts shot her through the abdomen. It had to be deliberate, it was too precise. She'd come out because she'd heard the sound of our vehicle and and come looking for help. And we'd turned her into a target. f**k noooooo. We bundled her into the back of the vehicle and got her back to a Field Hospital in what seemed like an eternity but seriously the driver must have set off any remaining speed cameras the way he threw our vehicle about. I don't know f**k all about obstetrics and I'm concentrating mainly on trying to keep the young mother alive, feeling utterly guilt ridden that she went into the open to try to flag us down, but keep her going until we rock up at the hospital. The medical team detect a foetal heartbeat, after all that time I was sure I was down to a single patient scenario, but they get her into the ER, prep her for an emergency C-Section and open her up. They spot a little elbow poking out of one of the internal bullet holes, the little guy inside has plugged up a potentially fatal hole in his mum. Shit, he's been shot through that elbow. He's been f**k shot AND saved his Mum's life before he's even been born. Ah shit, that one had a happy ending at least, Mum and Baby survived. God knows how.

Other families didn't have such happy endings. Two sisters we brought out were the sole survivors of their entire extended family and neighbours - 23 of them. Badly injured in a mortar attack, we got them back to a field hospital even as they were protesting that they couldn't leave the rest of their family behind. I was ok with this, but when I checked on their recovery when I went back the next day they saw me as the cruel man who'd taken them away from their family. The nurses had pushed their beds together so they could hold hands... that was when I lost it. Quick removal from the scene to go and investigate the tire pressures on the vehicles where nobody could see me. One of the nurses sent me a picture of them and I still choke up when I look at it.

And of course it's not just traditional weaponry those evil ISIS f**k use either. They just lurve using chemical weapons - not because they're particularly effective (they aren't really), but because of the incredible psychological effect they have. Everyone there is utterly (and rightly) shitscared of them. After a couple of well publicized events everyone was on edge. Any funny smell or whiff of smoke would have them all calling it a chemical attack and demanding mass decontamination, treatment, or at least a first class ticket out of the battlefield.

I ended up transitioning into the role of Chemical Warfare Specialist as nobody else seemed to want such an auspicious role - or possibly nobody else wanted to go near contaminated casualties, much less while wearing a MOPP4 suit, breathing through a respirator and sweating your tits off in rapidly increasing temps. At least I got to pull back to the Trauma Stabilization points and even the hospitals in this role. They used mainly Chlorine gas and Mustard(ish) gas. Neither incredibly effective, but easy to make with household or industrial chemicals. Many casualties were barely affected by the chems, but were rightly terrified about what had happened to those around them. They all required decontamination in any case, but what was a bit interesting is that many symptoms - even blisters from Vesicants weren't manifesting until sometimes 12-24 hours after exposure. It's really not an instantaneous thing. Chlorine gas is a motherfucker. It's at least visible, so you can avoid it easily enough usually, but it's a choking agent - it'll turn the mucus in your lungs into hydrochloric acid. Because you can see the yellow cloud, it's normally easy to avoid, but I remember one family who'd been exposed to it telling us how they'd been trapped in their basement, watching this yellow vapour cloud snake its way down the steps toward them like some ghostly serpent, and they had nowhere to go to escape it. Eerie as all f**k.

Gawd. I think I've written myself out for now. Like I said, this is more for me, unburdening me of a bit of the crap. There are a ton of more incidents and stories I'm going to have to write about somewhere. Apologies as it's probably not proper PR fare.