Long Shot

Long Shot

by Azad


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In 2002, at the age of nineteen, Azad, a young Kurdish man, was conscripted into Iran’s army and forced to fight against his own people. Refusing to go to war against his fellow Kurds, Azad deserted and smuggled himself to the United Kingdom, where he was granted asylum, became a citizen, and learned English. But more than a decade later, having returned to the Middle East as a social worker in the wake of the Syrian civil war, Azad found that he would have to pick up a weapon once again. In September 2014, after twenty-one days of intensive training as a sniper, Azad became one of seventeen volunteer marksmen deployed by the Kurdish army when ISIS besieged the city of Kobani in Rojava, the newly autonomous region of the Kurds.

In Long Shot , Azad tells the inside story of how the Kurdish forces fought nine months of bloody street battles against the Islamic State. Vastly outnumbered, the Kurds would have to kill the jihadis one by one, and Azad takes readers on a harrowing journey behind rebel frontlines to reveal the sniper unit’s essential role in fighting, and eventually defeating, ISIS. Weaving the brutal events of war with personal and political reflection, Azad meditates on the incalculable price of victory—the permanent effects of war on the body and mind; the devastating death of six of his closest comrades; the loss of hundreds of volunteers who died in battle. But as Azad explains, these were sacrifices that saved not only a city but a people and their land. Rojava was freed, and ISIS, which once threatened the world, never fully recovered.

At once wrenching and redemptive, Long Shot is a dramatic account of modern war that tells the story of how, against all odds, a few thousand men and women achieved the impossible and kept their dream of freedom alive.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802129079
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 02/12/2019
Pages: 412
Sales rank: 213,819
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Azad Cudi is a 35-year-old British national from a Kurdish background. Based in London and Brussels, Azad grew up in eastern Kurdistan, where he was conscripted into the army and escaped to the UK. Aged 19, he was granted asylum and citizenship, learnt English and began working as a journalist for the Kurdish diaspora media. In 2011, Azad was working for a television station in Stockholm when the Syrian civil war broke out and the Kurds established their autonomous enclave. Azad's response was to fly out to Syria and work as a social worker, but as the civil war expanded he became a fighter in the volunteer army, the YPG.

Read an Excerpt

When they attacked Kobani in the autumn of 2014, ISIS sent twelve thousand jihadis against our two and a half thousand men and women. They had artillery, mortars, tanks and heavy machine guns, mobile battle kitchens and surgeries, even social media managers and investment specialists to manage their trade in pillaged oil and artefacts. We lacked the most basic equipment, right down to binoculars and radios, ate whatever we found in the kitchens of abandoned houses and armed ourselves with forty-year-old Kalashnikovs and a few boxes of ammunition. If surviving these odds was already a figurative long shot, our meagre tools ensured it would also require literal ones. Sniping – killing the invaders one by one – was one of the few tactics available to us.

I have often been asked how many we killed. I always refused to answer. Only a weak man would measure himself in kills. Only a fool would try to describe all the hate, loss, sacrifice and love in war with a number. If only to set the matter aside, let me say at the outset that in eight months, our snipers decimated them. Herdem killed 500, Hayri 350 and me 250, making more than a thousand between us. My task in these pages is to explain how we accumulated these terrible numbers in a way that you might understand us.

Table of Contents

Author's Note xi

Maps xii

1 Outside Sarrin, southern Rojava, April 2015 1

2 Kobani, December 2013 to April 2015 13

3 Kobani, September-October 2014 23

4 Britain and Sweden, 2004-2013; Rojava, September-December 2013 35

5 Qamishli, December 2013 to June 2014 45

6 Kobani, October 2014 55

7 Sardasht, 1983-1997 65

8 Kobani, October 2014 77

9 Kobani, October 2014 91

10 Mahabad, 2002 103

11 Kobani, November 2014 111

12 Kobani, November 2014 119

13 Iran to Europe, 2003-2004 131

14 Kobani, November-December 2014 141

15 Kobani, December 2014 155

16 Leeds, 2004-2011 163

17 Kobani, December 2014 to January 2015 173

18 Outside Kobani, January-February 2015 183

19 Southwest of Kobani, March 2015 195

20 Close to the Euphrates, March-April 2015 205

21 Kobani, April-May 2015 215

22 Kobani, May-June 2015 221

23 Kobani, July 2015 to April 2016 229

24 Silemani, Frankfurt, Brussels and Leeds, 2016-2018 241

Acknowledgements 251

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