24 Year Old British Man Killed Fighting IS in Raqqa

Published July 12th, 2017 - 11:55 GMT
Mr Rutter is thought to have left his home in April last year in order to travel to Syria, and enlisted with the People's Protection Units, otherwise known as YPG, the following month. (DailyMail)
Mr Rutter is thought to have left his home in April last year in order to travel to Syria, and enlisted with the People's Protection Units, otherwise known as YPG, the following month. (DailyMail)

A British man and two Americans have been killed fighting against ISIS in Syria, their Kurdish commanders have said.

Luke Rutter, 24, from Birkenhead, was killed last Thursday fighting in Raqqa alongside political activist Robert Grodt, 28, from Santa Cruz, California, and 29-year-old Nicholas Warden, who claimed to be from Buffalo, New York, but was listed as coming from Fort Steward, Georgia.

The men are believed to have been taking part in a patrol in ISIS's de-facto capital when they were ambushed by militants. 

A YPG source to The Guardian that the patrol were a few miles from the city centre when they came under heavy fire after a fighter stepped on a landmine.

It is understood that ISIS militants opened fire with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms.

Mr Rutter is thought to have left his home in April last year in order to travel to Syria, and enlisted with the People's Protection Units, otherwise known as YPG, the following month.

But rather than tell his family where he was going, Mr Rutter instead told them he was going to join the French Foreign Legion.

In a video released after his death by the YPG, Mr Rutter says: 'I lied to people I care about in order to come here, I said I was going somewhere else.

'I apologise massively for that. Apart from that I don't regret my decision, and I hope you respect it.'

Speaking about his reasons for joining, he says the he wanted to defeat ISIS and believes the Kurdish forces are the best way of doing that. 

Mr Rutter's mother Caroline was informed of his death by a fellow YPG fighter, who said she had no idea he was in the country.

 

In a video Mr Grodt recorded before his death, he also speaks of his desire to defeat ISIS and forge 'a more secure world'.

He adds: 'To my family, there are way too many of you to speak to individually, just know that I love you all and there's a lot that goes unsaid. 

'To my daughter - I'm sorry I'm not there and I will be making a longer video to go along with this. Just know that I love you all.'  

Meanwhile Mr Warden said he joined because of the ISIS attacks in Orlando, San Bernardino, Nice and Paris.

Mr Grodt featured in a video from the Occupy protests back in 2012 when he came to the aid of fellow activist Kaylee Dedrick when she was pepper-sprayed.

It is believed the pair began dating after the footage went viral and eventually had a child together. 

The YPG said on its Facebook page that he had come to help defeat Daesh – the Arabic for Islamic State, adding: ‘Comrade Soro travelled to Rojava in March and joined the YPG to fight the fascist and reactionary Daesh gangs in Raqqa.

‘He was martyred on 5 July after battling bravely in the terrorist group’s so-called capital.

‘Despite lacking professional military background, he was among the best in training.’ It added that when asked at the end of his training whether he was ready to fight, he ‘firmly responded “Yes”’.

He is understood to have been fatally injured when his foot patrol came under fire after one of his comrades stepped on a landmine.

Paying tribute to Mr Grodt on Facebook, relative Elizabeth Clarke said: 'He was there helping oppressed people, his lifelong passion.

'I will always remember Rob for his commitment to his ideals.' 

One of Mr Rutter’s comrades wrote on Facebook: ‘One of the greatest and most humble guys I’ve ever met! Thanks for the lessons.’ 

Mr Rutter is the fourth Briton to have been killed fighting for the YPG.

Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, 25, a former Marine from Barnsley, was the first to die after being shot in the village of Tel Khuzela back in 2015.

Dean Evans, 22, from Warminster, died in the village of Manbij in July 2016; while Ryan Lock, 22, from Chichester, killed himself as he was about to be captured by ISIS while fighting in Raqqa in December last year.

Western-backed coalition forces have been fighting alongside Kurdish militias to retake Raqqa since November last year.

Having captured the surrounding villages, the coalition announced it was attacking Raqqa itself on June 6, completely cutting it off from the outside world just over two weeks later.

On July 3 the coalition fought its way into the Old City, breaking through a perimeter of ISIS defences in a major advance. 

Raqqa, declared by ISIS as the capital of its so-called Caliphate, marks the terror group's final stronghold in the Middle East following the fall of Mosul this week.

 

 


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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