DİHA - Dicle News Agency


YPG fighter Johnston 'first foreigner falling martyr' in Rojava

26 February
11:32 2015

NEWS DESK (DİHA) - Australian warrior Ashley Kent Johnston, nomme de guerre Heval Bagok Serhed, fighting with Kurds aginst ISIS gangs lost his life.

The man who assumed the Kurdish nomme de guerre Bagok was one of dozens of Westerners to have travelled out to the Middle East to join the YPG. An Australian become the first Westerner to die fighting alongside Kurdish forces. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the fighter’s death on Tuesday but was unable to confirm his nationality until Wednesday. “An Australian man was killed in an assault on Tuesday by the ISIS against a position of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) near Til Hamis in Hasakeh province,” said the Observatory‘s director Rami Abdel Rahman.

The Observatory did not release the man’s name. Former Northern Territory trade union boss Last month, Northern Territory ALP president Matthew Gardiner had his party membership suspended amid reports he had gone to Iraq or Syria with the aim of joining Kurdish militants fighting ISIS. The ABC reported that Mr Gardiner was in Hasakeh province. “Dozens of Westerners have joined the YPG’s ranks. There are foreigners fighting on all sides of Syria’s war,” said Mr Abdel Rahman. Scores of Westerners from countries including Australia, the US, Britain and Spain have travelled to Syria to join the Kurds in their fight against ISIS.

“They are volunteers, they don’t get paid anything at all,” said Mr Abdel Rahman. “The YPG isn’t actively recruiting foreigners, but people from countries like Canada, the United States, Britain, Spain, Australia, Holland, Austria and France have travelled to Syria to join their ranks,” he said. Some of them had previous combat experience because they had served in the army. In December, Australia revealed that 20 of its citizens who had travelled to Syria and Iraq to join IS had been killed.