Found a bunch of unused iraqi schoolgirl uniforms in an abandoned school. Wonder if I can find one that fits my girlfriend?
In the city of Erbil, taking a break from the front and wearing civilian clothes for the first time in over two months. Feels amazing. The guys at the front spends one week there at a time, then gets one week off so they can go home and spend time with their loved ones and rest. I obviously don't have that luxury and I have to admit, it have been hard at times, with the lack of food and sleep. I should probably take a few days of once a month, but I'm worried I'll miss out on something at the front. Been quite busy here, doing some much needed shopping and meeting with different people, but I got a couple of days left before I'll head back again, so I'll get my rest.
Last day in Erbil before heading back to the front tomorrow morning.
This is our makeshift gym, which consists of two heating ovens we use as a bench, a bar and two dumbbells with light weights only. I try to work out a couple of times a week, but I can't really get a decent workout because of the lack of weights, equipment and food. I'm getting some questions about what we eat, so this post will be about our diett. We usually get three meals a day. If there is drama at the front, we might skip a meal or two. The breakfast is a kind of flatbread we eat with cheese spread, jam or sometimes eggs. Lunch is rice with either beans in tomato sauce or onions. Dinner is same as lunch, but we get meat every other day, either chicken or lamb that we slaughter ourselves. We can be as many as 6-8 guys sharing a chicken, or three times that many sharing a lamb, so there isn't much meat to go around. We drink sweet tea to every meal and have plenty of bottled water. I sometimes get the opportunity to buy Wild Tiger Energy Drink, wich is a real treat. I have lost a good deal of weight, mostly muscle mass, since I arrived here almost three months ago. The clothes feels a lot looser now, even the Under Armour compression shirts, and I feel like I have to tighten my belt more and more every day. But I'm trying to be positive about it, and the way I see it, I'll have another project on my hands when I return home... to rebuild the body.
American and canadian veterans volunteering for the Nineveh Plain Protection Units, a Christian militia organization that was created last summer, to defend the Assyrian Christians from the Islamic State. These guys and one gal seemed pretty decent, unlike some of the other foreign volunteers I've come across.
Getting ready for another night at the front with 'Open Season' by @officialstuckmojo. This is my theme song, right here. Things have been relativly quiet at the front for a while. We have the occasionally mortar and rocket attack, and we have the drones from the Islamic State flying over our positions, trying to map out our weak spots for later attacks. They use commercial drones, the type where you can program the route using a built-in GPS. The guys try to shot them down, but it's a waste of ammunition in my opinion, they fly too high and too fast. Also, a big thanks to my norwegian brother @themickmick for his donation. The first care packages have also been sent, they should be here in about two weeks. From what I've been told, there will be some weapon cleaning products, books, food and snacks. Mostly looking forward for the last two, to be honest. We haven't had any rice or meat for a few days now, so we fry vegetables (squash, onions and tomatoes), wich we eat with bread. Not sure when I'm going home, but I know the first thing I'll do, is to have a double BigMac menu with a cheeseburger or two, large fries and milkshakes, yum!
Setting fire on the grass at the front to prevent the enemy from sneaking up on us again. In other news, the iraqi city of Ramadi fell to the Islamic State on friday. Once again, the Iraqi Army fled a city and left behind massive amounts of weapons, ammunitions and armoured vehicles, courtesy of Uncle Sam, that will probably be used by the Islamic State against the Peshmerga in coming battles. Thanks, Obama! The US is still refusing to arm the kurds, but is pouring resources into the Iraqi Army, who keeps fleeing battles at the sight of the enemy and is leaving behind their equipment for the enemy to take. Anyway, this is kinda bad news for us who are outside Mosul, awaiting the upcoming offensive, wich might be delayed now. The iraqi government, realizing their army can't take back the city alone, have ordered the Shia militias, who had great success conquering Tikrit a few weeks ago, to mass outside Ramadi and prepare for assault. 3.000 Shia fighters are currently outside the city, more will arrive in the comming hours and days, and things will get messy. The population in Ramadi are Sunni, like the Islamic State, and even though many of them don't support or approve of the group, they are likely to be subjugated to retaliation attacks by the Shia militias. This might in return increase the support to the Islamic State from the local population. Either way, it will be interesting to watch how this will play out in the coming days.
Stand to arms at the front. Things have actually been very calm at the front after the fall of Ramadi. Seems to me the Islamic State are concetrating their resources and energy in the Anbar-province and leaving us alone for the moment (except for the weekly shelling). But we're obviously not letting our guard down. Also, me and @iraq_s.w.a.t have squared up since my last post. I don't have any problems with this guy, and who knows, maybe we'll even meet in Mosul in the near future over a cup of tea. One more thing, guys... I've always tried to answere all your comments and messages because I truly appreciate the support you're showing me. It means a whole lot, really. But I'm about to reach a point where that's not possible any longer because of the amount of messages I'm recieving. If you don't get an answere, or it's short, or it takes time, it's not because I'm trying to be rude, I simply don't got time. But I read every message and comment and I'm grateful for your kind and supporting words. Hope you guys understand.
Out jogging last night when I passed the graveyard on the outskirts of the village and heard barking from the other side of the wall. My curiosity made me go inside and have a look. The whole graveyard was overgrown by weeds and tall grass, so I started calling out, and out of the grass, seven small pups came running at me, jumping all over me out of excitement. Considering their young age and the fact that no one ever goes inside the graveyard, I might be the first person they ever see and their reaction was priceless, it really made my day. However, we've had puppies before, and every time I get attached to them, they end up beeing run over by a car, die of disease or the guys give them away without my knowledge. We also don't have anything to feed them with, except for water (we've been living on bread and vegetables for four days now), and I didn't see their mother nowhere, so I'm not so sure they'll be able to grow up. My girlfriend told me to do my best, and if they should die, they have at least known the love from a person. I thought it was a good idea untill I woke up this morning and smelled smoke comming from outside. I ran up to the roof and saw a large fire outside the village. It engulfed the graveyard while I was watching and I immediately regreted ever walking in there. I ran back there, all the grass was burned away, so I quickly located their lair under a tomb and tried to call them out without luck. The heat and smoke got too much after a while, so I left, thinking they where dead. However, this was the sight that met me when I returned later today... I'm gonna do daily trips from now and give them water and some playtime, and make sure they get the best start possible on their lives with the means available.