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Swedish teen rescued from ISIS speaks: 'It was really a hard life'

Story highlights

  • A Swedish teen rescued by Kurdish forces from ISIS territory has given an interview
  • She told K24 television that she followed her boyfriend to Iraq, not understanding what ISIS was
  • Life in the so-called caliphate was not what she expected, and she wanted to return home

(CNN)A 16-year-old Swedish girl rescued from ISIS territory in northern Iraq by Kurdish special forces has given a television interview explaining how she came to be stranded in the terror group's so-called caliphate.

Kurdish forces came to the aid of Marlin Stivani Nivarlain near the ISIS stronghold of Mosul last Wednesday, according to a statement by the Kurdistan Region Security Council.
    Kurdistan 24 (K24), a broadcast news station based out of Irbil, the capital of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, aired an interview with the teen Tuesday. The circumstances of how the interview came about are not clear.
    Marlin Stivani Nivarlain was rescued from near Mosul by Kurdish forces.
    In the interview, in which Nivarlain speaks in English and says she is currently in Irbil, the teen explains how she had come to be living near Mosul, more than 3,200 kilometers (1,988 miles) from her hometown of Boras in southwest Sweden.
    Nivarlain said she had stopped attending school around age 14 in mid-2014 and met her boyfriend about the same time.
    "First we (were) good together, but then he started to look at ISIS videos and started to speak about them and stuff like that," she told K24.
    "And I don't know anything about Islam or ISIS or something, so I didn't know what he meant. Then he said he want(ed) to go to ISIS, and I said OK, no problem."
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    In late May the next year, the couple set off to move to ISIS territory, she told K24, traveling overland by train and bus through Europe to Gaziantep, Turkey, where they crossed into Syria by bus.
    They were met by ISIS in Syria and taken by bus along with other men and women to Mosul, in ISIS territory in northern Iraq, where they were given a house.
    "In the house, we didn't have anything, no electricity, no water, nothing," she told K24.
    Life under ISIS was "totally different" from her life in Sweden, where she had "everything," she said.
    "It was really a hard life."
    She had contacted her mother in Sweden by phone and told her she wanted to come home, and her mother had contacted Swedish officials, she said.
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    Sweden then notified Kurdish authorities, who carried out the rescue mission, according to the statement by the Kurdistan Region Security Council.
    At the end of the interview, the teen smiles as she expresses her thanks to Kurdish authorities in Iraq.
    "I want to thank them to send me back to Sweden and meet my family again and have a happy life," she said.
    Iraqi Kurdish authorities said in a statement Tuesday that Nivarlain had been "misled by an ISIL member in Sweden to travel to Syria and later to Mosul." ISIL is another acronym for ISIS.
    The teen was currently in its territory, being "provided the care afforded to her under international law," the statement said.
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    "She will be transferred to Swedish authorities to return home once necessary arrangements are put (in) place," it said.
    Sweden's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday it had no information about the case.
    The Kurds are a Middle Eastern ethnic group based mostly in an area encompassing parts of Iran, Turkey, Iraq and Syria. Some Kurds have long sought to establish a state in the region -- a move opposed by countries that would lose territory to such a state.