Desert Sniper

How one ordinary Brit went to war against ISIS

Desert Sniper is an extraordinary, true account of one man’s journey from well-meaning volunteer to battle-scarred combat sniper, placing himself daily in the line of fire to fight one of the greatest evils of this new century.

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About The Book

What makes an ordinary but highly educated Englishman, with no previous military training, decide to travel and fight in one of the most brutal conflicts on the planet?

Ed Nash has travelled across the globe, and is working with refugees in Burma, when he first becomes aware of the terrible atrocities being committed under ISIS’s newly established ‘Caliphate’, covering vast tracts of Iraq and Syria. In June 2015, he chooses to undertake the hazardous journey, via Northern Iraq, to Syria, to join ill-equipped and poorly trained but battle-hardened Kurdish forces as they attempt to halt Daesh’s relentless advance.

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Nash is an articulate, insightful and refreshingly honest companion as he unpacks the shifting complexities of the political and military situation in which he finds himself. As one of a motley band of foreign volunteer fighters – veterans of other conflicts, adventurers and misfits, from many different countries – we follow him through his rudimentary training and early combat operations as he and his companions slowly gain the trust and respect of their Kurdish colleagues.Nash shows us the realities of the war on the ground in Syria in fascinating detail; the privations of the ordinary Kurdish soldiers, the terrible price paid by civilians caught in the cross-fire, the ever-present danger of lethal suicide bombers and occasional moments of striking beauty in amongst the carnage.

A modern classic in the making, Desert Sniper will prove to be one of the most unforgettable accounts to emerge from the war against ISIS.

Nash is an articulate, insightful and refreshingly honest companion as he unpacks the shifting complexities of the political and military situation in which he finds himself. As one of a motley band of foreign volunteer fighters – veterans of other conflicts, adventurers and misfits, from many different countries – we follow him through his rudimentary training and early combat operations as he and his companions slowly gain the trust and respect of their Kurdish colleagues.Nash shows us the realities of the war on the ground in Syria in fascinating detail; the privations of the ordinary Kurdish soldiers, the terrible price paid by civilians caught in the cross-fire, the ever-present danger of lethal suicide bombers and occasional moments of striking beauty in amongst the carnage.

A modern classic in the making, Desert Sniper will prove to be one of the most unforgettable accounts to emerge from the war against ISIS.

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Prologue

It was only well after the smoke and dust cloud had blown over me and settled to give me a light patina of grit that I noticed the mortar had detonated just thirty metres away. I had been sitting cross- legged on the veranda of a house on the edge of Manbij, trying to open an unripe pistachio nut, when the bomb went off. I hadn’t eaten in twenty- four hours and my nails were splitting in my attempt to strip what was proving to be a stubborn opponent. A few seconds later I realised I hadn’t even looked up. I’d been shelled innumerable times in the past year, and had become very good at telling where they were going to land, to the extent that my ability to judge a shell’s fall was now subconscious. If you don’t hear them until late, that means they are coming down on top of you.

It occurred to me that perhaps I’d been in Syria for too long, but then I managed to split the pistachio shell and my attention went back to dealing with my hunger. I popped the nut into my mouth, chewed, and then spat it out in disgust. Unripe pistachios are utterly revolting. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised.

The dust swirled in the wind, which normally blows strongly across the flat plains and low hills of northern Syria. It is the only relief from the burning heat that bakes the ground into a rock- hard surface during the summer, but the wind freezes you to the bone in the wet winters, which transform the solid dirt into a glutinous muck that bogs down feet and vehicles. I sat and considered the houses around me, not far from the front line. I would like to say I was working towards some great revelation about the meaning of existence, or mankind, or war. But all I was really interested in was that I was away from the unrelenting fighting (mortar shells don’t count), and the gnawing hunger in my belly. My mind was pleasantly blank, though I was completely aware of my surroundings. It is a strange state, a mindset of total focus that I have only found in combat.

It seems an odd situation to be in, especially as fighting in a war wasn’t really on my agenda and I’d never served in the military. But in June 2015 I shouldered my rucksack and boarded the first of a series of aeroplanes that would take me to northern Syria. I would spend the best part of the next year fighting alongside the Kurdish YPG against the Islamic State – otherwise known as ISIL, ISIS or Daesh. This is the story of my experiences.

About the author

Ed Nash was born in the South East of England and, after a number of years of travelling in Africa and Asia, studied for a degree in History at a university in the North West of England, gaining first class honours. He worked as a press officer with the Free Burma Rangers, an organisation that provides medical support and assistance to persecuted minority movements across Burma.

“So, when people ask me why I went to fight Daesh, I am, to be honest, baffled. How can any sane person not oppose such evil?”
— Ed Nash

Reviews

"A sensational book for all who want to understand what this war looks like from the inside."

Gen. Roman Polko

Acting Chief of Polish Bureau of National Security

„Rewelacyjna książka dla wszystkich, którzy chcą zrozumieć jak ta wojna wygląda od środka”

Gen. Roman Polko

Biuro Bezpieczeństwa Narodowego

"I found it to be an excellent read. Men and women who volunteer to fight like Nash did ought to have their stories more widely known, and recognized for seeing a bad situation and doing something extremely concrete about it."

Ian McCollum

Creator of Forgotten Weapons

"Nash has a good familiarity with firearms, and writes clearly and rationally about them. The guns themselves are not the focus of the book, but when they are relevant they are explained in a way that gun nerds will appreciate. "

Ian McCollum

Creator of Forgotten Weapons

Interviews

Ed is available for interviews on podcasts, radio shows, or other audio-only mediums.

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Available as a hardback/paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Book published by Little, Brown and Company | Website © Ed Nash 2024 | Website designed by Ingenium BCS | All rights reserved