ISIL deserters and the men who helped them escape from Syria reveal testimonies of life and death under the armed group.
In southeast Turkey, a few dozen kilometres from war-torn Syria, a secret network, at great risk to themselves, is rescuing fighters who have decided to leave ISIL.
For the first time, these deserters have agreed to give a detailed account of the roles they played and what life was like under ISIL. Most of them have lived in Raqqa, ISIL’s political and military stronghold in Syria.
Personal accounts of this sort are extremely rare because, in general, ISIL deserters go into hiding and keep quiet. If they give themselves up to authorities, they are immediately imprisoned and can no longer have any contact with their lawyers or families.
The smuggling network, made up of long-term fighters of the Free Syrian Army, agreed to reveal a few of its working methods. By helping the deserters to flee and by collecting their testimonies, they want to denounce ISIL’s lies, its false promises, its cult of violence and its widespread corruption. The members of the network are convinced that, in doing so, they will discourage future candidates and block recruitment channels.