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Made a big mistake want my old life back
Four years after leaving Germany to live under the Islamic State group, 19yearold Leonora has fled the jihadists last bastion in eastern Syria and says its time to go home I was a little bit naive, she says in English, wearing a long billowing black robe, and a beige headscarf with white spotsUSbacked forces are fighting the last IS jihadists in a final shred of territory in eastern Syria
Baghouz: Four years after leaving Germany to live under the Islamic State group, 19-year-old Leonora has fled the jihadists' last bastion in eastern Syria and says it's time to go home. "I was a little bit naive," she says in English, wearing a long billowing black robe, and a beige headscarf with white spots.US-backed forces are fighting the last IS jihadists in a final shred of territory in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border, causing thousands of people to flee.
The young German woman says she first came to Syria aged 15, just two months after converting to Islam. “After three days, I married my German husband," she says at a screening centre for the displaced run by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.After four years under a now near-extinct IS caliphate, Leonora says she wants to go home. "I want to go back to Germany to my family, because I want my old life back," she says."Now I know that it was a big, big mistake."
Leonora says she became the third wife of German jihadist Martin Lemke, after he travelled to Syria with his first two wives. IS had the year before swept across large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq, declaring a "caliphate" in areas it controlled. Leonora first lived in the extremist group's de-facto Syrian capital of Raqa, but says she was just a housewife. "I was just at home, in (the) house cooking, cleaning — stuff like this," says the pale-faced German, clutching the youngest of her two children, an infant aged just two weeks.
Eventually, she says, she picked up her children, and fled with her husband, and his second wife into SDF-held territory. US-backed forces detained Lemke on Thursday.Leonora claims Lemke worked mostly as a technician for IS. "He makes technical stuff, computer stuff, repairs computer, mobiles," she says. But investigations published in German newspapers portray Lemke, who is now believed to be 28, as an influential figure among foreign jihadists in Syria.
More than 36,000 people have fled the SDF assault on the so-called "Hajin pocket" since early December, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor that relies on a network of sources inside the country.