Brit feared being ‘decapitated on Youtube’ during horror Syrian landmine ambush
An ambush from four armed men beside Syrian landmines capped off a Brit's crazy walk to Iraq.
Mitch Jones completed his mammoth journey to Iraq's border last weekend, 130 days and 2,622 miles after setting off from Lille, France.
Omicron shutting down borders in Europe wreaked havoc on the 28-year-old's trek for charity – but it was nothing compared to his wild experiences on the road.
Mitch from Nutbourne, West Sussex talked the Daily Star through the dog attacks, romping pigs and kidnap scare that came from his War Child fundraiser.
The final stretch of Mitch’s mission was always the part he was most nervous about and it proved with good reason on a road touching Syrian landmines.
Mitch said: “Oh my God. I was cycling along the motorway and all of a sudden this pristine white pick up truck, came screeching in front of me and blocked my way. I thought what is this?"
Given the kindness shown to him by strangers throughout the trip, Mitch remained hopeful that it was someone pulling over to check he was okay.
That glimmer of hope was dashed when four armed blokes marched towards him.
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Mitch said: “Maybe it’s someone offering to help me, but in unison they opened every door and four people got out with automatic rifles. At first I couldn’t see any uniform either and I was literally a metre away from Syria at this point.
“I could’ve put my right hand out and touched the barbed wire fence so I thought this is it, this is where I get kidnapped by ISIS and you’re going to see my head getting chopped off on Youtube.”
Fortunately however it was just a thorough passport check from Turkish border control who Mitch said warned: “You shouldn’t be coming here it’s very dangerous.”
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Mitch spent most of the journey with a tent on his back which provided easy shelter for 44 nights.
He pitched up in gardens, farmers' fields, by lakes and even town centres but one night in Serbian woodland was enough for Mitch to reconsider remote locations.
Mitch said: “I was in a forest 10km square radius I was the only human being in any direction, I pitched my tent up and as soon as it went dark all I could hear around me was the pigs waking up all around my tent.”
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For the first time on the trip Mitch felt uneasy about his safety from wild animals.
He continued: “They were like fighting and mating and trying to get into my tent so I had to make as much noise as I could to scare them away.”
Putting up with noisy pigs is one thing but hearing wolves howling did little for Mitch’s kip.
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“It was a very sleepless night,” Mitch said.
“Deer were running close to my tent then I could hear wolves, well I thought they were wolves but I was telling myself they were actually dogs because I didn’t want to be worried.
“I Googled and maybe I shouldn’t have, ‘Are there wolves in Hungary?’ And on this little map it said there are wolves in a little area and that was exactly the area where I was camping in in this nature reserve's woods.
“After that I was wary about camping in the wild not so close to people.”
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Mitch may have been wishing wolves were dogs that night in Hungary but stray canines became a real nightmare as he trekked further south.
At times he would take detours setting him back a couple of hours just to avoid the barking beasts.
He said: “The dogs were a huge issue it started becoming an issue in Serbia, a lot of the time I’d be walking along a farm bridleway and there’d be dogs just standing there guarding the entrance of the land they lived on.
“Then in Turkey it got a step worse as the dogs were a lot more vicious.
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He said: “Firstly a pack of dogs tried to attack me but I fought them off and then a car came and it actually hit one of the dogs, he was okay he survived it but it put all the other dogs off and they went back.
“Then the next day after that first dog attack I did get bitten by a dog which came out of nowhere barking and was going for my ankle which he bit. It didn’t hurt too much but it was a shock.”
Click here to donate to Mitch's fundraiser for charity War Child.
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