A Frenchman who fought in Syria prepares to enter fight for Ukraine

A tender French fighter who educated in Syria in opposition to jihadists is getting ready to return to the frontline, this time in Kyiv, to “assist the Ukrainians stay their freedom”.

The 28-year-old Frenchman says his identify is Pierre and he comes from Normandy.

He arrived within the Ukrainian capital 5 days in the past and is ready to grasp the place he’s going to quickly be deployed. He expects it to be in Kyiv.

He hopes to head the place he’s going to be “most beneficial”: “at the entrance line”, so that you can use in opposition to the Russians the abilities he has got during the last few years in Syria, reminiscent of “taking pictures with 12.7 and 14.5 mm (system weapons), Kalashnikovs, rocket launchers…”

Brown-haired, medium top, slender and sharp determine, he arrives with a quiet step within the discreet park of Kyiv the place he gave an appointment to AFP information company. He’s dressed in a beige canvas ranger and a khaki army tracksuit, like the headband that hides the ground of his face.

On 24 February, Pierre, a former apprentice space painter who often works on building websites, used to be at house when Russia invaded Ukraine. When he noticed those pictures, he used to be “revolted”. Tomorrow, when he aroused from sleep, he used to be nonetheless “offended”.

“Within the afternoon, I mentioned to myself: ‘That is it, I am off. I could not keep on my sofa and watch that’.”

‘Till the tip’

Ten days of trains and vehicles later, he’s in Ukraine, the place President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has known as for international volunteers to enroll in the resistance to the Russian invasion. Some 20,000 have already arrived, in step with the Ukrainian govt, a determine that can not be independently verified.

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Ukrainian squaddies direct Pierre to the Georgian International Legion, an army unit created in 2014 via former squaddies from the Caucasus nation to assist Ukraine battle Moscow.

Lately, Pierre is aware of that the fight will probably be lengthy. He plans to stick “till the tip of the battle if essential”, out of “dedication” and “team spirit” with Ukrainians who’re “combating to stay their freedom” threatened via the Russian “oppressor”.

Between 2014 and 2020, in Syria, he says he confronted different “oppressors”: the jihadists of the Islamic State staff (IS) and Turkey, enemies of the Kurds.

He spent 4 years in general, in 3 remains, just about demise a number of occasions, particularly in Raqa, the previous IS capital, which the Kurds, supported via NATO planes, recaptured in 2017 from the jihadists. The latter, sooner than fleeing, had riddled whole neighbourhoods with mines.

Whilst looking a construction along with his unit, one in every of his comrades precipitated a mine buried below the particles in a stairwell. Pierre, who unintentionally used to be in a nook of the stairwell on the time, used to be unhurt. However in entrance of him, 4 other people died and every other used to be severely injured.

“It’s kind of irritating,” he says.

‘Hypocritical’ Europeans

As in Syria, Pierre meets volunteers from very other backgrounds in Ukraine, “Italians, Germans, Norwegians, Spaniards, other people from all over the place Europe”, “or even from India”.

In line with an inside supply, the Georgian International Legion in Ukraine recently has a number of dozen to a number of hundred international volunteers, together with no less than 3 Frenchmen.

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He sees Ukraine as “the ball within the soccer fit” on the summit between Russia and the United States. “In spite of everything, the Ukrainians finally end up within the shit,” he says. “When issues move fallacious, there is not any one left to assist them, we simply ship guns in a rush…”.

He places France in the similar bag as the opposite “hypocritical” Eu international locations, which might be offended however “let massacres happen” in Ukraine, as “in Kurdistan, in Yemen, in Burma”.

When he used to be more youthful, in France, Pierre used to be very within the military. However he made “a couple of errors”, he says, with out in need of to elaborate, which closed the barracks’ doorways to him. And he is aware of that his lengthy remains in Syria, which might be suspect within the eyes of the French government, is not going to assist to reopen them.

However as of late, he says “thanks to these in France who stored him out of the military”, “as a result of it’s higher to head by myself to Kurdistan or right here (in Ukraine), than to play the hypocritical recreation of politicians”.