“We had started to build our story on three points around the road to Raqqa. The first point was the medical point, the second point was the women’s point and the foreign volunteers point,” director of the documentary Anastasia Trofimova told RT. “The one quality that unites all of them is that they’re very altruistic, they’re very idealistic.”
Trofimova and her team braved improvised explosive devices, suicide bombers, sniper fire and grenade-dropping drones to tell the story of the self-proclaimed capital of the now-defunct ‘caliphate’ of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
“There was actually one [drone] that attacked us while we were not even on operation yet. We were about to go on operation,” Trofimova said.
“The grenade exploded in mid-air, so it didn’t calculate the height. If it fell over, we’d be done.”
The film also features the stories of fighters in the Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG), as well as European volunteers who joined them.
Robin, a volunteer from Germany, got sick of hearing how “someone should do something about” IS after every terrorist attack in Europe. He left behind everything he knew so he could fight IS himself.
“ISIS is acting nearly in every country. People are paying attention for one day, two days and then acting as if everything will be normal,” Robin tells Trofimova and her team.
He then recounts just one of the myriad nightmares from the devastated city, of a traumatized father with nothing left to lose.
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“ISIS just executed, a few minutes or maybe an hour ago, his three kids. All of a sudden, maybe two minutes later, we heard screams and he just started running to the ISIS base. He just started running there, without a rifle, just with a sword,” Robin adds.
“As one of the medics, that we were filming, said ‘We are the only generation that will never say that we want to go back to the days when we were young.’ And it’s true,” Trofimova told RT.
‘The Road to Raqqa,’ will be available on RT.com from Monday, September 18.