An Iraqi soldier who was one of hundreds lined up to be shot by the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS) lives to tell his story because he pretended to be dead during the mass execution.
Human Rights Watch claims Islamic State militants executed nearly 770 men at five locations in Tikrit after seizing the city in northern Iraq in June. However, IS claims to have killed 1,700 Iraqi soldiers.
Ali Hussein Kadhim, a 23-year-old Iraqi soldier, was captured on June 12 along with thousands of other men at 11 a.m. as they attempted to flee along the main road from a military base, The Independent reports.
He was advised by soldiers and officers to wear civilian clothes to avoid being seen by Islamic State militants.
Kadhim said he and other prisoners were held in a shipping container in a palace compound in Tikrit before being taken out in a group of 10, lined up to be shot one by one.
He told HRW that when the bullet missed his head, he tumbled down and pretended to be shot.
“I thought that was the end for me, there was nothing left to fear,” he told The New York Times in an interview. “But then I remembered my family. That was a difficult feeling. I kept thinking about my family. Who will care for them? What will happen to them?”
He then waited for darkness before escaping and hiding in the reeds for days until he came into contact with HRW, who helped him to safety, away from Islamic State-held regions, according to The Independent.
Watch Kadhim's interview with the Times below (Warning: Contains graphic content):
Video Source: The New York Times/YouTube