Ross Kemp has spoken about the moment he was shot at by Islamic State (Isis) fighters while filming a documentary for Sky One. The former EastEnders star turned investigative journalist visited Iraq and Syria to join Kurdish armed forces on the front lines against the violent tide of Islamist rebels spreading across the Middle East.
During the course of the tour, Kemp witnesses Isis (Daesh) snipers open fire just 300m away while sheltering behind rubble and sandbags in a hazardous part of Syria between the Tigris and Euphrates.
As bullets rain through the air, the BAFTA award-winning broadcaster's worst fears became reality. Despite hotfooting it a few hundred metres across open ground, Kemp soon finds himself being shot at again.
Speaking about the ordeal, he said: "We came under pretty intense sniper fire. You don't hear the bullets moving towards you – they're travelling too fast. Faster than the speed of sound.
"You hear the snap as they break the sound barrier and the snap as they hit the wall. You can feel the air pressure changing – you can feel the 'whoosh', the whip of the wind around the bullet. You can feel it."
Despite being known as a TV star, and father-of-two, Kemp believes it was his duty to put himself in danger. He said: "It's part of the job. If you're going to go on the front line, you should be under no illusions that there's a good chance you're going to get shot at."
To his horror, Kemp later discovers that snipers specifically targeted him and his film crew as Kurdish troops iterate, having tapped into IS radio during the attack. Kemp added: "They listened to them on the radios saying: 'Get the Westerners'. We stood out, because we were wearing body armour."
"You're thinking: 'Keep your head down. Don't risk putting your head over the parapet when you're moving around'. Going through your head is: 'Stay alive. Get home in one piece.'"
Kemp reflects on the experience by claiming the journey had exposed him to a "genuine movement for democracy, equality and tolerance" before he praised Kurdish fighters for their enduring efforts in combating IS. "The Kurds are a beacon of light in a sea of tyranny. They've taken the fight to Isis."
During the programme, the 51-year-old actor is almost reduced to tears as a shell-shocked Kurdish woman describes how her children were either kidnapped or killed – and he also witnesses the result of one mass killing. There's also an intriguing moment featuring young female soldiers who appear to possess a relentless dedication to their cause.
Watch Ross Kemp: The Fight Against Isis on Sky One at 9pm on 14 July.