Belfast Telegraph

Father's relief as former RIR soldier held in Iraqi prison after fighting Isis is released

By Conor Feehan

The former Royal Irish Regiment soldier released from an Iraqi prison after crossing the border illegally from Syria will probably never go back to the Middle East, his relieved father has said.

Joshua Molloy (24) made headlines when he was picked up more than 10 days ago coming back into Iraq after months spent fighting Isis alongside a Syriac Christian group allied to the Kurdish YPG.

Yesterday his parents Declan and Anne Marie, from Ballylinan, Co Laois, finally got word that their son had been freed.

"He's in a hotel in Erbil and is planning a route home," Declan Molloy said.

"He will probably visit some friends in Central Europe on his way home, but we hope to have him here soon where we will give him space, fatten him up a bit and let him recharge his batteries.

"It is one big sigh of relief for all of us, we are overwhelmed, very relieved and very worn out," he added.

Mr Molloy said he is looking forward to having a cold beer with Joshua and letting him tell his story at his own pace.

Joshua travelled to the Middle East region in April 2015 to fight against Isis with the forces allied to the Kurds.

He is a former British soldier, and his parents were anxious to express that he is not a soldier or a freedom fighter, but a man with compassion and an interest in world affairs.

According to military sources, Molloy served with the Royal Irish Regiment based in England until February last year when he completed his four-year tour of duty.

He served with the regiment during a six-month tour of Afghanistan in the Helmand Province in 2011-2012. The regiment saw "intense" action with the Taliban.

Sources also say that while serving with the Kurdish forces in Syria, Joshua was part of a force that was almost overwhelmed by Isis forces and ran out of ammunition.

Their lives were saved when a US Air Force jet dropped a bomb on the Isis forces advancing on his position.

Joshua joined the Kurdish fighters along with two other British soldiers, one a former member of the Parachute Regiment.

He was held along with British citizens Joe Akerman, also a former soldier, and Jac Holmes, an IT worker.

It is understood that a condition of the release of the three men is that they are banned from re-entering the country for two years.

Mr Molloy said he was able to speak to his son via Facebook yesterday morning. "I'm not sure what his exact plans are but it is one big sigh of relief that he is free and it will be another big sigh when his plane eventually touches down in a European airport," he added.

Belfast Telegraph


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