Former bakery worker Walid Ismail speaks during an interview with Reuters in a Kurdish security compound in the city of Erbil, Iraq November 28, 2016. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari
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When Kurdish forces began firing rockets at a suspected Daesh (ISIS) hideout in northern Iraq, one of those inside, former bakery worker Walid Ismail, said he tried to persuade the others to surrender.Ismail said Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had wide appeal when he walked into a Mosul mosque in broad daylight two years ago, and declared large parts of Iraq and Syria a caliphate, six years after Al-Qaeda was driven underground.Like other members of Iraq's Sunni minority, Ismail alleged many innocent Sunnis had been branded terrorists by the army, which put up little resistance when about 800 Daesh fighters swept into northern Iraq in pickup trucks in 2014 .Ismail's account of the Tunisian's role tallies with what Kurdish and Iraqi officials say is the tendency of foreign fighters to fully embrace Daesh's ruthless tactics and hard-line ideology viewing opponents as infidels deserving death.With the battle for Mosul still going on, the security compound is home for people the Kurds in charge of the area consider a major threat.
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