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Privately educated ex-banker will not stop fighting Isis

A public school-educated former banker who has fought against ISIS in Syria for the last three years said he will not leave until the depraved extremists are finally defeated.

Macer Gifford – the pseudonym of a Cambridge-born 30-year-old University College London graduate and former banker – is fighting with the Syriac Military Council (MFS), a Christian group. 

He is currently battling to liberate ISIS’s self-proclaimed capital city, Raqqa.

The one-time City boy, who fights as a medic and a sniper, said: ‘I won’t go back until ISIS has fallen. Only the death of a close family member would make me go back home.’

 

Foreign volunteer fighter ‘Macer Gifford’ in the Al-Nahda neighbourhood on the front lines of Raqqa. The Cambridge-born former banker has been fighting against ISIS for the last three years after feeling compelled to act 

MFS soldier Sufian Alloush poses for a picture on the front lines. Sufian was recently killed by an ISIS sniper. He was shot through the chest. Macer said: 'He died quickly. He was a legend until the end, one of the best'

MFS soldier Sufian Alloush poses for a picture on the front lines. Sufian was recently killed by an ISIS sniper. He was shot through the chest. Macer said: ‘He died quickly. He was a legend until the end, one of the best’

Macer fires his sniper rifle toward ISIS positions as other MFS members look on. Sufian, far left, was recently killed by an ISIS sniper

Macer fires his sniper rifle toward ISIS positions as other MFS members look on. Sufian, far left, was recently killed by an ISIS sniper

Foreign volunteer fighter Macer rests during guard duty in his front line base in the Al-Nahda neighbourhood on the front lines of Raqqa. He is determined not to leave until ISIS has been defeated 

Foreign volunteer fighter Macer rests during guard duty in his front line base in the Al-Nahda neighbourhood on the front lines of Raqqa. He is determined not to leave until ISIS has been defeated 

Macer makes his way through an abandoned house as he tries to avoid being hit by sniper fire on the front lines of western Raqqa

Macer makes his way through an abandoned house as he tries to avoid being hit by sniper fire on the front lines of western Raqqa

Explaining that he finds it ‘wonderful being in Syria’, he said: ‘I’ve never felt more at peace because I know what I’m doing is right.

‘I’m fighting against ISIS. I’m helping the people here resist the fanaticism, the fascism, that has blighted their lives for so long.’    

Though he is softly spoken, Macer carries an exceptional amount of confidence and has pride about what he is doing in the Middle East.

‘ISIS were winning when I arrived,’ he said. ‘I joined the losing side.

‘There was no help from the Americans and no airstrikes when I came here – and now look, we have ISIS completely surrounded on all sides and we are squeezing them tighter and tighter. 

‘In the first six months of me being here we liberated 10 per cent of territory off of ISIS in Syria. When I was fighting for the YPG we took back more land than any group fighting ISIS combined!’

Macer, who went to Kimbolton School in Huntingdon, also said his mere presence serves as a morale booster.

He explained: ‘Going around meeting the guys with my rifle […] shows them they’re not alone. There’s a British man here who really cares about them and wants them to win and build a better future for themselves.

Macer's flak jacket - complete with a tourniquet, a military Union Jack patch and his blood type (A+). The MFS (Syriac Military Council) are a group of Christians who fight alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces in the struggle to topple ISIS

Macer’s flak jacket – complete with a tourniquet, a military Union Jack patch and his blood type (A+). The MFS (Syriac Military Council) are a group of Christians who fight alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces in the struggle to topple ISIS

Macer looks through his sniper rifle's scope in Raqqa, Syria. Macer, who went to Kimbolton School in Huntingdon,  said his mere presence serves as a morale booster because it shows a British man cares about the people of Syria 

Macer looks through his sniper rifle’s scope in Raqqa, Syria. Macer, who went to Kimbolton School in Huntingdon, said his mere presence serves as a morale booster because it shows a British man cares about the people of Syria 

Macer fires his sniper rifle toward ISIS militants at night in western Raqqa. But he refuses to be drawn on how many fanatics he has killed, preferring to focus on more positive things 

Macer fires his sniper rifle toward ISIS militants at night in western Raqqa. But he refuses to be drawn on how many fanatics he has killed, preferring to focus on more positive things 

Macer makes his way up a stairwell toward a position to use his sniper rifle against ISIS. Though he originally came to the country as a medic, he began using a sniper rifle to help out 

Macer makes his way up a stairwell toward a position to use his sniper rifle against ISIS. Though he originally came to the country as a medic, he began using a sniper rifle to help out 

MFS soldiers sleep on the roof of their base as the sun rises in the early mornings on the front lines. They are at times just 300 feet away from ISIS - and constantly suffer from their mortar attacks and drones 

MFS soldiers sleep on the roof of their base as the sun rises in the early mornings on the front lines. They are at times just 300 feet away from ISIS – and constantly suffer from their mortar attacks and drones 

MFS soldiers sleep on the roof of their base as the sun rises in the early mornings on the front lines. Airstrikes, he said, land 500 feet away and suck the air from people's lungs

MFS soldiers sleep on the roof of their base as the sun rises in the early mornings on the front lines. Airstrikes, he said, land 500 feet away and suck the air from people’s lungs

Macer (right) eats his dinner on the floor of his base on the front line as he and his comrades hold off ISIS fanatics just a few hundred feet away 

Macer (right) eats his dinner on the floor of his base on the front line as he and his comrades hold off ISIS fanatics just a few hundred feet away 

‘It’s really about building hope and trust between the West and this new community that’s growing in Syria.’ 

Recently, Macer and a small group of MFS fighters have been in control of an abandoned house used as a base on the front line between ISIS and the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces, of which the MFS is a part).

He said he has been there for weeks and is attacked regularly by ISIS fanatics.  

‘The only problem now is that – having ISIS surrounded – it makes them desperate to break out,’ he said.

‘We are cutting off their supplies of food and water so they are trying to break free, which in turns makes our perimeter more susceptible to attacks.’ 

He added: ‘It’s very dangerous. If they surround us then we can be in serious trouble, and they like to attack at night so there is no time for sleep.

Beautiful: Locals enjoy a swim as they play in a canal in a liberated area on the outskirts of Raqqa. The DSF are surrounded Raqqa, one of the last strongholds still held by ISIS 

Beautiful: Locals enjoy a swim as they play in a canal in a liberated area on the outskirts of Raqqa. The DSF are surrounded Raqqa, one of the last strongholds still held by ISIS 

'It is important to have some small amount of normality in all of this mess,' Macer said. 'For me, it's washing. People will go weeks without a shower or a wash, yet I have one every day. Those five minutes are my sprinkling of sanity in this hell hole'

‘It is important to have some small amount of normality in all of this mess,’ Macer said. ‘For me, it’s washing. People will go weeks without a shower or a wash, yet I have one every day. Those five minutes are my sprinkling of sanity in this hell hole’

Locals enjoy a swim as they play in a canal in a liberated area on the outskirts of Raqqa 

Locals enjoy a swim as they play in a canal in a liberated area on the outskirts of Raqqa 

Macer runs from sniper fire on the front lines of Raqqa. His biggest fear is being shot by snipers. But he added: 'ISIS have been preparing this for years so they have dug tunnels to escape and to catch us off guard, and they have parked VBEDS [vehicle-born explosive devices] ready to attack us'

Macer runs from sniper fire on the front lines of Raqqa. His biggest fear is being shot by snipers. But he added: ‘ISIS have been preparing this for years so they have dug tunnels to escape and to catch us off guard, and they have parked VBEDS [vehicle-born explosive devices] ready to attack us’

Time for tea: MFS soldiers kill time as they wait for orders in Raqqa

Time for tea: MFS soldiers kill time as they wait for orders in Raqqa

MFS soldiers cook a late dinner in the kitchen of an abandoned house on the front lines of Raqqa

MFS soldiers cook a late dinner in the kitchen of an abandoned house on the front lines of Raqqa

‘They are an invisible enemy. At night all you see are the muzzle flashes and that’s it. The rest is drones, airstrikes and mortars. That’s modern-day warfare, I guess.’

He said that sometimes ISIS are just 300 feet away.

A few days ago, he ended up in a slanging match with some of the depraved group’s fighters.

He said he shouted at them using their Arabic acronym: ‘Come on, Daesh! Come here. Daesh! F*** you, Daesh!’

In return, they screamed: ‘Come here, sinner!’ 

Macer is shown positions of ISIS militants before preparing to shoot targets on the outskirts of Raqqa. He has been fighting with the group for two months. Before that, he fought with the YPG militia 

Macer is shown positions of ISIS militants before preparing to shoot targets on the outskirts of Raqqa. He has been fighting with the group for two months. Before that, he fought with the YPG militia 

A general view of the Al-Nahda neighbourhood of western Raqqa. While being interviewed for this story, he spoke of a group of MFS fighters he wanted to get moving. He said: 'That's the problem with these guys. They hang around for so long and make so much noise that the ISIS drones just come along and drop a bomb on their heads'

A general view of the Al-Nahda neighbourhood of western Raqqa. While being interviewed for this story, he spoke of a group of MFS fighters he wanted to get moving. He said: ‘That’s the problem with these guys. They hang around for so long and make so much noise that the ISIS drones just come along and drop a bomb on their heads’

Macer fires his sniper rifle toward ISIS militants from a tower block on the outskirts of Syria 

Macer fires his sniper rifle toward ISIS militants from a tower block on the outskirts of Syria 

An MFS soldier walks through the front lines of the Al-Nahda neighbourhood, western Raqqa

An MFS soldier walks through the front lines of the Al-Nahda neighbourhood, western Raqqa

MFS soldier Sufian Alloush looks out over the city of Raqqa. Sufian was recently killed by an ISIS sniper

MFS soldier Sufian Alloush looks out over the city of Raqqa. Sufian was recently killed by an ISIS sniper

MFS soldiers cook a late dinner in the kitchen of an abandoned house on the front lines of Raqqa. They are using the house as their Nocter (a base which is being used to hold the line of their forces against ISIS)

MFS soldiers cook a late dinner in the kitchen of an abandoned house on the front lines of Raqqa. They are using the house as their Nocter (a base which is being used to hold the line of their forces against ISIS)

Macer waits patiently as he looks out from a tower block in the search of ISIS militants

Macer waits patiently as he looks out from a tower block in the search of ISIS militants

The biggest threat comes from drones and snipers – but he also worries about future advances. 

He said: ‘ISIS have been preparing this for years so they have dug tunnels to escape and to catch us off guard, and they have parked VBEDS [vehicle-born explosive devices] ready to attack us.’ 

It is also too dangerous to stay in one spot for too long, he said, adding that he is always quick to keep moving and tries to keep a low profile. 

While being interviewed for this story, he spoke of a group of MFS fighters he wanted to get moving. 

Macer Gifford - the pseudonym of a Cambridge-born 30-year-old University College London graduate and former banker - is fighting with the Syriac Military Council (MFS), a Christian group

Macer Gifford – the pseudonym of a Cambridge-born 30-year-old University College London graduate and former banker – is fighting with the Syriac Military Council (MFS), a Christian group

Macer, who went to Kimbolton School in Huntingdon, also said his mere presence serves as a morale booster. He explained: 'Going around meeting the guys with my rifle [...] shows them they're not alone. There's a British man here who really cares about them and wants them to win and build a better future for themselves'

Macer, who went to Kimbolton School in Huntingdon, also said his mere presence serves as a morale booster. He explained: ‘Going around meeting the guys with my rifle […] shows them they’re not alone. There’s a British man here who really cares about them and wants them to win and build a better future for themselves’

The one-time City boy, who fights as a medic and a sniper, said: 'I won't go back until ISIS has fallen. Only the death of a close family member would make me go back home'

The one-time City boy, who fights as a medic and a sniper, said: ‘I won’t go back until ISIS has fallen. Only the death of a close family member would make me go back home’

He said: ‘That’s the problem with these guys. They hang around for so long and make so much noise that the ISIS drones just come along and drop a bomb on their heads.’

Macer sleeps on the front lines under the stars and beneath the flight path of drones.

The biggest threat while fighting ISIS comes from drones and snipers - but he also worries about bomb-laden vehicles. Pictured: Macer outside of a battle zone 

The biggest threat while fighting ISIS comes from drones and snipers – but he also worries about bomb-laden vehicles. Pictured: Macer outside of a battle zone 

He also has to worry about mortar rounds and US fighter jets. The mortars land less than 100 feet away and shake the building. 

Airstrikes, he said, land 500 feet away and suck the air from people’s lungs. 

It is pitch dark at night, with no electricity and no phones or lighters to ensure ISIS drones aren’t given a target to bomb.  

Macer said the medical centre he helped set up in Tell Tamer has ‘saved thousands of lives’.  

‘But now I have done a lot of fighting: both in operations and also using my sniper rifle, he added.

‘But of course you have to watch out for being on the receiving end of a sniper as well.’  

Two weeks ago Macer’s friend and fellow MFS fighter Sufian Alloush was killed by a sniper. 

He was shot through the chest. Macer said: ‘He died quickly. He was a legend until the end, one of the best.’

But how does he keep sane in such an environment? 

‘It is important to have some small amount of normality in all of this mess,’ he said. ‘For me, it’s washing. People will go weeks without a shower or a wash, yet I have one every day. Those five minutes are my sprinkling of sanity in this hell hole.’

Macer said the medical centre he helped set up in Tell Tamer has 'saved thousands of lives'

Macer said the medical centre he helped set up in Tell Tamer has ‘saved thousands of lives’

He also has to worry about mortar rounds and US fighter jets. The mortars land less than 100 feet away and shake the building

He also has to worry about mortar rounds and US fighter jets. The mortars land less than 100 feet away and shake the building

He has been fighting with the MFS for the last two months, and before that he fought with the Kurdish YPG militia 

He has been fighting with the MFS for the last two months, and before that he fought with the Kurdish YPG militia 

Though he is softly spoken, Macer carries an exceptional amount of confidence and has pride about what he is doing in the Middle East

Though he is softly spoken, Macer carries an exceptional amount of confidence and has pride about what he is doing in the Middle East

How does he stay sane? He explains: 'It is important to have some small amount of normality in all of this mess. For me, it's washing. People will go weeks without a shower or a wash, yet I have one every day. Those five minutes are my sprinkling of sanity in this hell hole'

How does he stay sane? He explains: ‘It is important to have some small amount of normality in all of this mess. For me, it’s washing. People will go weeks without a shower or a wash, yet I have one every day. Those five minutes are my sprinkling of sanity in this hell hole’

It is pitch dark at night on the front line with ISIS, with no electricity and no phones or lighters to ensure drones aren't given a target to bomb

Macer with an assault rifle

It is pitch dark at night on the front line with ISIS, with no electricity and no phones or lighters to ensure drones aren’t given a target to bomb. Pictured left and right: Macer with weapons

It is also too dangerous to stay in one spot for too long, he said, adding that he is always quick to keep moving and tries to keep a low profile

It is also too dangerous to stay in one spot for too long, he said, adding that he is always quick to keep moving and tries to keep a low profile

He said that sometimes ISIS are just 300 feet away. Pictured: Macer winning the hearts and minds of Syria's canines 

He said that sometimes ISIS are just 300 feet away. Pictured: Macer winning the hearts and minds of Syria’s canines 

He explained: 'It's not about that, it's about the good that's been done in this place and the people I've saved'

He explained: ‘It’s not about that, it’s about the good that’s been done in this place and the people I’ve saved’

Despite being something of a veteran, he is very reluctant to discuss how many ISIS sadists he has killed

Despite being something of a veteran, he is very reluctant to discuss how many ISIS sadists he has killed

He added: ‘If you can’t look after your body, how the hell are you going to look after anything else on the front line?’ he asked through a mouthful of toothpaste.

And yet despite being something of a veteran, he is very reluctant to discuss how many ISIS sadists he has killed. 

He explained: ‘It’s not about that, it’s about the good that’s been done in this place and the people I’ve saved. 

‘You hear people boast such unconfirmed bulls*** numbers about how many ISIS they’ve killed. I mean… just be normal, for God’s sake. Don’t exaggerate things. There are such better things to boast about than the people you’ve killed.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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