From the Sultan Murad Brigade to the Afrin resistance

A a former member of the Sultan Murad Brigade is today fighting in the Jabhat al-Akrad group.

Murshid Reco, 27, comes from al-Bab city in Shehba region and is the father of a son. Due to the terror regime of the ISIS he had to flee to Aleppo.

Speaking to the ANHA news agency, the former member of the Sultan Murad Brigade said: "I lived with my family in Bizra in the al-Bab region. The ISIS occupied our area in 2014. We fled to Aleppo because of their cruelty."

In Aleppo, Murshid met the Sultan Murad Brigade and joined them: "These people said, 'We will bring back the rights that the people have lost and guarantee peace'. We had already suffered a lot from ISIS. Because of that and also to protect my family, I decided to join them."

The true face of the militia

About his time at the brigade, Murshid told that, "All their claims were false. Their only goal was to get young men to join. There was no difference between the Sultan Murad Brigade and the ISIS. They plundered and murdered people just like the ISIS. I wanted to leave there as soon as possible, but I was afraid that my family would be hurt. If I had separated from the brigade, I would have been killed because I had seen their true face."

Captured during distribution conflict between the militias

In 2015, fighting broke out in the Bustan Pasha neighborhood of Aleppo between the Khaled al-Hayani and the Sultan Murad Brigade, due to disagreements over the distribution of properties usurped from civilians. Murshid was captured in these battles. He told the following about his imprisonment:

"I was taken prisoner by the Khaled al-Hayani gangs. They seized my gun. I was held prisoner for six months and was tortured every day. Even after three years, the torture traces on my body are still visible. My family did not know about my situation. To save myself from this hell, I wanted to join this brigade. It was just as bad as the other militias. Their promises consisted only of slogans, in truth they were all raiders and thieves."

Murshid himself witnessed women harassed at checkpoints and abducted and raped for alleged cooperation with the Syrian regime. Men were innocently captured, tortured and robbed.

Fear for the family

Murshid was with the Khaled al-Hayani brigade for a while.

"Although I was a member, my gun was stolen time and time again and then I was accused of having lost it. Then I was thrown in the dungeon and told to pay for the gun. One day I was injured in a leg during a clash with the regime forces. The militiamen I was with took my gun and fled, leaving me alone. Later, my family took me from the battlefield and took care of my treatment. I was very worried about my family. When I went to the battle, I would take my family to my brother’s house in Haydariya neighborhood. The goal of these militias is not the defense of the population or anything. Their only goal is to drive people out and steal their belongings."

A militia officer named Abu Omar al-Zengi had been working in Turkish occupied Azaz city to provide the Khaled al-Hayani brigade with weapons, ammunition and members, Murshid told and continued: "It was the end of 2016. The Kastelo road and the Ramusaye road were closed off and we were surrounded. As per an agreement, the Jaysh al-Fatah militia were meant to remove the siege on us. However, we learned that the blockade would continue by the order of the Turkish state. Then came the instruction for us to go to the Shear district in North Aleppo and wait for the green buses provided by the regime to take us towards the north. All this was part of an agreement between the Turkish state and the Syrian regime. After the Turkish state sold out its militias, Russia allowed Turkey to occupy al-Bab in return.”

But Murshid did not want to leave the city together with the other militiamen: "I refused to leave Aleppo because I could not interiorise what the FSA did. I have seen all their attitude and their crimes against women. After staying behind in Aleppo, I joined the friends in Jabhat al-Akrad and stayed in Sheikh Maqsoud."

"Here I understand the true meaning of friendship"

Murshid Reco said: "The fighters of Jabhat al-Akrad are known for their organization, discipline, respect and morality. With them I got to know the spirit of friendship. They have nothing to do with theft or immoral behavior. When comrades get injured, they do everything to save them. I got to know true friendship and sacrifice here. They will not leave you alone. Now I'm not worried about my family anymore, because I know they are safe."

The resistance of Afrin

Murshid joined the resistance during the Turkish military invasion of Afrin: "For the first time, I felt that I was fighting to protect my country. We fought against the Turkish occupation state and its militias. If conditions had been more just, they would not have been able to hold on in the face of our resistance."

Murshid was injured in Afrin’s Shiye district: "I'll never forget what the militias did to me. With the liberation of Afrin and other territories of Northern Syria, I will take avenge my people and myself.”