Friday 30 September 2016

Irishman jailed in Iraq after Isis battle 'will probably never go back to the Middle East' - relieved dad

Published 25/04/2016 | 02:30

Jac Holmes, Joe Akerman and Joshua Molloy from Ballylynan, Co Laois, take a selfie in Erbil after their release from jail in a Kurdish-controlled area of northern Iraq. Photo: Joe Akerman/PA
Jac Holmes, Joe Akerman and Joshua Molloy from Ballylynan, Co Laois, take a selfie in Erbil after their release from jail in a Kurdish-controlled area of northern Iraq. Photo: Joe Akerman/PA
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan

The Irishman 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.

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Joshua Molloy (24) made headlines when he was picked up more than 10 days ago coming back into Iraq after months spent fighting Isil 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 [the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan] and is planning a route home," Declan Molloy told the Irish Independent. "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 worn out."

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

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan

Joshua travelled to the Middle East 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.

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According to military sources, Joshua 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 against 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.

The anxious wait by Joshua's family came to an end late on Saturday night when acting Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan phoned the family to give them the good news of their son's release.

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.

Mr Flanagan said: "I welcome Joshua's release and I am pleased that he is on his way home to join his family."

Irish Independent

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