‘I won’t go home until ISIS has fallen’: Privately educated former banker who sleeps 300ft away from ISIS troops says he will not stop fighting jihadists until ‘fascism’ is pushed out of Syria
- Macer Gifford, 30, is fighting with the Syriac Military Council, a Christian group set against the Islamic State
- He is a Cambridge-born University College London graduate and ex-banker who went to Syria three years ago
- Now he divides his time between sniping ISIS fanatics and being providing medical support to his comrades
- He is fighting on the front line between ISIS and the allied Syrian Democratic Forces near the city of Raqqa
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.’
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.
‘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.
‘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!’
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.
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.
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.’
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.’